Why Tracee Ellis Ross Protested Against These Black-ish Scenes

Tracee Ellis Ross looked back on playing Bow Johnson in Black-ish and the debates she had with the writers about "perpetuating images" of Black women.

By Cydney Contreras Jun 09, 2022 7:58 PMTags
Watch: Tracee Ellis Ross Smirks When Hearing Icon Next to Name

Tracee Ellis Ross isn't afraid to make her voice heard.

So when it comes to portraying Black women on television, Tracee is happy to stand up for what she believes in. She admitted that she often questioned the Black-ish writers about how her character was depicted in certain scenes, telling Variety, "I would say to the writers, ‘This is not me thinking you're not doing a good job. It's just that my only job on Black-ish is Bow Johnson.'" 

But as the show evolved, she took it upon herself to look after the younger actors, particularly Marsai Martin, who played her daughter Diane. She remembered speaking to the star's parents and taking on a mother-like role throughout the show's eight years on the air. 

"Marsai and I had a couple of situations where I noticed she and I both had the same issues with a script," Tracee shared. "I said, ‘It's really your character. But I am here. We can have the meeting together, and you can do all the talking. But if you lose your ability to express what you're trying to express, put your hand on my hand, and I will take over.'"

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She added, "I took my role as Mama T, as I was called, very seriously."

As for the scenes Tracee took issue with, they were moments that portrayed Bow doing "lady chores," like cooking and cleaning. Tracee said she doesn't like "perpetuating images that don't work for me," adding that it's not just women who do chores. 

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"I just want the audience to know that I am a person off-screen," she explained, "and when I enter the scene, I'm coming with the point of view of the full life of Bow Johnson—not just to set up the world of Dre [Anthony Anderson]."

Of course, Tracee acknowledges that she has lived a different life than most Black women, saying, "I know that I am a light-skinned woman, and I don't represent the breadth and the beauty and the power of all of us." Nonetheless, she's dedicated to "expanding our real estate as Black women."

Now that Black-ish is done, Tracee is focused on new projects, like the upcoming Daria spin-off movie Jodie.

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