Tracee Ellis Ross’ New Hair Care Business Is a Decade in the Making

Tracee Ellis Ross’ New Hair Care Business Is a Decade in the Making

-Welcome back.
-Hello, darling. How are you? -I’m wonderful.
So happy to have you here. -I love being here.
-This is very exciting. So this is a — This is
a prequel to your character. -I love that.
It’s so technical and important. -Yes, I want to make sure.
-This is a prequel. -It’s a prequel.
And you get to be the narrator. -Sounds like something you would
take for a headache. -Yeah.
[ Laughter ] I like to take prequel when I watch too many TV shows
in one evening. -That’s exactly right.
Okay, sorry. -But this gets to look back
on the fact your character, Rainbow Johnson on “Black-ish,”
comes from a mixed background. -Yeah. -And you get to narrate
this character. Was it exciting for you when
this was proposed as an idea? Were you part of
the seed of this idea? -I was part of
the seed of the idea. But it was brought to us —
It’s such a fun idea. I think on “Black-ish”
we often do flashbacks of Dre. But we don’t really know
where Bow comes from. And I also felt like
it was really identifiable. Fun to go back to the ’80s.
That’s always a good idea. -Yes.
-Binary ’80s. I mean, we used to talk in
a different way. Wear weird clothes. But the fish-out-of-water idea,
that all of us in some way have that experience of
feeling like an “other.” And how do you navigate that and
then come up with who you are? How do you become yourself
and are yourself in the midst of feeling
like you don’t fit in anywhere? -And, obviously, from that clip
we see that you grew up in a commune.
-Yes. -That is not true of you
in real life. -I don’t know
why you should say this. [ Laughter ] I grew up on Fifth Avenue
and Switzerland and Paris. -You did because your mom is —
-Humble beginnings. -[ Laughing ]
Your mom is Diana Ross. But there’s your dad, Bob.
-That’s Bob. These are my parental units.
-Yeah. -I come by my “mm” honestly.
-Yes. And you’ve said that you got —
obviously your performing gene would make a lot of sense.
-Yes. -But you got your sense of humor
from your dad, Bob. -I got my sense of humor
from my dad. My nose from my dad.
-Yeah. -Both of my parents
have impeccable style. -That’s very nice.
-I agree. -Yes.
-Yeah. -Right.
[ Laughter ] That would have been
heartbreaking if they had impeccable style and you ended up on
the other side of that. -It would have been a bummer,
but maybe I wouldn’t have known. -Yeah, that’s true.
-I would have been like, “Whatever.
I dress just like my parents.” -This is very exciting. You got to cast the younger
version of yourself. -First of all, she looks more
like me than I look like me. -She kind of does, yeah.
[ Laughter ] -It’s like the weirdest thing
in the world. I think she’s gonna
be better than me. -Yeah. They might have to
re-cast you on “Black-ish.” -Totally.
I am concerned about this. I whispered in her ear.
I’m like, “Don’t do good. Don’t do good.”
[ Laughter ] -But you had a hand
in casting her. What was that like to pick
a younger version of yourself? -It was a fun project.
-Yeah. -I was like,
“Give her really good hair.” -Yeah. -It was really —
It’s been really exciting being in the executive producer
position. I always — I love the idea of
creating content, and, like, developing
and building a story. And so this has been
an exciting thing. The casting process in general. As an actor, it’s really fun
to be on the other side and to want to create a really
warm space for actors to thrive. -Yeah. And I think for actors
auditioning, it’s always nice to know there
are other actors in the room because I think that
when that isn’t the case — -It’s scary. -People don’t realize exactly
how terrifying it is to go in. -It’s terrifying.
-Yeah. -Yeah.
-So that’s very nice. You not just —
You don’t develop content. You’re also —
You have a new business. -Yes, darling, I am now — I don’t know
why I’m talking like this. -I really enjoy it.
[ Laughter ] -It is so bizarre.
-It’s a new version of you. -I am not comfortable with it, so I will look back on this
and frown. Nonetheless —
[ Laughter ] -No, but tell us more.
Tell us more about your company. -I have started
a hair-care company. -It’s about time.
[ Cheers and applause ] -Yes!
-It’s about time. -So, I wrote my first hair-care
brand pitch in 2008. -Okay, gotcha.
-It’s taken me this long. There is a community of
beautiful, beautiful, diverse, extraordinary people that have
gravity-defying curls, coils, and tight textures that are not supported
by the beauty industry. And there is
a lack in that space. And so I have wanted to create,
not only for myself but for this community,
a line of hair care that really nourishes our hair and allows our hair
to be juicy and joyful. -It’s really juicy and joyful. [ Cheers and applause ] Pardon my ignorance, but how,
over the course of your life, how has it come to you that
you were not being taken care of with the products available? -When you go to the store
and you can’t find nothing. -Okay, gotcha.
[ Laughter ] So when you can’t find nothing,
what do you — what have you —
what do you use? -Part of what happens
in our community is, this community of curly,
coilies, and tight textures, is that we learn to cocktail. Not with drinks. But you take products
and mix them together. You get creative. I put beer in my hair once
because I heard it would help it curl up. -And what was the answer there? -I was very crunchy. -Okay, gotcha.
[ Laughter ] -And how I was a teenager
getting beer from my, like — “I swear, it’s for my hair.” [ Laughter ] But, so, it’s a combination of
not seeing ourselves represented in culture
and in entertainment and media. And so when I was growing up,
there were a small handful of women that wore
their hair naturally. And although my mother did, you’re not looking as a teenager
to your mom for what’s cool. -Right. Of course. -I’m like,
“Yeah, yeah, lady. Okay.” According to music and
television, I’m supposed to have easy, breezy, bouncy
and beautiful hair, and my hair didn’t do that. It bounced in another direction.
-Right. -And I didn’t understand
the beauty of my hair. And so as we are seeing,
the industry has taken note of a community that has existed and
been in their glory for so long. But we now get to have products
that support us. And the industry and the world
is in on the secret of this beautiful community
that has, you know, hair. -Yeah.
[ Cheers and applause ] Hair to be jealous of.
-Hair to envy.

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About the Author: Oren Garnes


  1. Black hair care has surpassed all others as a multi-billion dollar industry. Mostly built on shaming black women for their natural hair or bleeding them dry for over priced "Natural Hair" products. I say this as a major purchaser of small business hair care products.

  2. You go down the beauty aisle and everything is not for your hair until you get to the very end and their is one portion of an entire that has all your products. #blackhairproblems

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