Tracee Ellis Ross, one of our favorite actresses, has revealed that being Black in Hollywood trumps all other professional hurdles, even that of being a woman.
The Black-ish star sat down for The Hollywood Reporter‘s round-table discussion with Lena Dunham, Amy Schumer, Gina Rodriguez, Kate McKinnon and Ellie Kemper. During their chat, the ladies spoke on awkward sex scenes, being unapologetic and comedy.
It didn’t take long for the conversation to turn to the politics of how race and gender determine opportunity in Hollywood.
Since Ross was the only Black woman at the table, she was able to give a unique perspective, having experienced discrimination on both fronts. When it comes to which is more prevalent in Hollywood, she had no problem stating, “I think racism trumps everything. [It all] happens behind the scenes.”
Ross was able to skirt the issue during her run on Girlfriends–a show which we still mourn (we never got to see Joan’s wedding!). It ran for 176 episodes, and we lived for every last one of them. Aside from a great story with an amazing cast, there was major girl power behind the scenes since it was created by Mara Brock Akil.
Coming from that type of creative environment was a bit of a culture shock for her when the show was over because there were so few shows like it at the time. “Being on a show run by a woman with four women leads gives you a template that when you walk out into the world, you don’t see it. It changed my expectations,” she explained.
But what exactly is it that makes it harder to be Black in Hollywood? While there are plenty of roles for women, Chris Rock mused in an essay that you could go to the movies every week for months and not see a Black woman with a huge part.
“There aren’t many [roles in film]. That’s why I say no to all the offers!” Ross jokingly said.
This isn’t to say that Black women couldn’t handle more substantial roles, but Ross pointed out that the parts aren’t written for us. “Working on a film is one job where you look at a casting breakdown and I’ll think, ‘That’s me!’ But she’s not supposed to be Black.'” she shared, adding that not being part of the target group hasn’t stopped her from auditioning. “I go for them anyway.”