The NAACP Image Award-winning Black-ish actress recently decided to recreate Diana Ross' music video for "Work That Body." The single appeared on the singer's 1981 album, Why Do Fools Fall in Love, and was a Top 10 hit in the U.K.
Elliss Ross, 42, is the second-born daughter of Ross, 71, who has five children.
"I decided to recreate my mom's 'Work That Body' video from 1981 as a fun experiment and a surprise for my mama! And ODE to her! While she has so, so many incredible moments to choose from, this one had an impact on me. At first I wasn't sure why, but in true 'Tracee' fashion I became a little obsessed. I like to study these things until I am clear about what I'm seeing, what it's making me feel, and why," she wrote on her website. "I am keenly aware of how we as women (and most specifically women of color) are presented and portrayed in media and how we present ourselves. And here was my mama from almost 30 years ago on the surface doing something that often snags me in videos today but why did I feel differently about it?"
The former Girlfriends star said her mom looks "stupid gorgeous" in the original music video, as Ross was 36 years old at the time and had already given birth to three daughter. While "it's a celebration of music and style and the '80s," Ellis Ross explained on her site, "there is something more."
That's putting it mildly.
Ellis Ross felt "joyful and empowered" while watching Ross. She also realized that "the same kind of image in most music videos today doesn't give me that feeling."
Ellis Ross said she was likely "projecting a connection" because the music video stars her mom. That said, Ross wasn't "dancing as a presentation of herself or like she was offering up her bits, which I feel like most videos are these days. Often in today's images (moving and still), we are being objectified or we objectifying ourselves. I think it is meant to be an empowered act, a reclaiming of our bodies. But that is not always what it feels like to me. I am not intending to judge, just exploring with curiosity."
"My mom felt whole and connected…and in her body in this video. I have spoken before about encouraging women to shift our gaze from how we are seen to how we are seeing and, more important, feeling. And I saw a woman feeling joyful in herself as a whole being; she didn't seem to be presenting her ass or saying look at all the ways I can make myself look appealing to YOU. She seems to be saying, 'This is ME feeling good and I am strong and sexy and joyful in ME!'" Because of that, the actress explained, "I decided to recreate the video and try to feel the joy of being in my body while offering up tribute to my glorious mother. Hope you have as much fun watching it as I did recreating it, but most of all I hope it inspires you to find and be in the joy of your own body!"