Tracee Ellis Ross: I've Never Known I Wasn't Black

Nathan Francis

Tracee Ellis Ross is starring in a new sitcom about a black family dealing with issues of race identity, but the actress said she had no uncertainty about her own identity while growing up.

The ABC show, Black-ish, features a middle-class family living in Los Angeles. The show has earned solid early reviews, not only for its sharp writing but also its deft ability to address racial issues in a genre that normally takes a more superficial view.

For Tracee Ellis Ross, who plays the family's mother, the premise is a fresh one.

"It's one of the things I think is interesting on the show, we're not a family that happens to be black, we are a black family, but it's about a family dealing with their ish," she said in a recent interview. "Although the show is not about being black, within the ish a lot of cultural-identity race, all those things come up."

Tracee Ellis Ross grew up in a mixed household of her own. Her mother is music legend Diana Ross and her father is music business manager Robert Ellis Silberstein. Though she grew up with a Jewish father and an African-American mother, Tracee said she only saw herself one way --- black.

She noted:

"First of all, I've never known that I wasn't black. [In a negative moment] I've had moments; I had moments where the cab has pulled up and pulled away, especially if my hair is out. They get a little closer and keep on moving. For some reason, I can't think of stuff now but I've always known I was black. In an interview recently, someone said, 'So as a mixed woman, why is it that you identify with a black woman?' If I thought I could try being a white woman for a day and say that maybe I would. I was like, 'I don't know if anyone would buy it. No, no, no I'm white. I'm very tan…very tan. I get a perm.'"

[Image via The Huffington Post]