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How Tracee Ellis Ross and Her Rapping Alter Ego, TMurda, Are Getting Ready to Co-Host the BET Awards

Tracee Ellis Ross (aka rapper TMurda) is co-hosting the BET Awards tonight with her black-ish co-star Anthony Anderson.

Tracee Ellis Ross (aka rapper TMurda, aka everyone’s glam goddess) is co-hosting the BET Awards tonight with her black-ish co-star Anthony Anderson. Ahead of her big night, she spoke with ESSENCE about her pre-hosting rituals, her awards show outfits, and whether everyone’s favorite rapper with no singles or album, TMurda, will make an appearance.

On a day when you have a huge evening, hosting an award show, do you have any rituals that help you get in the zone?
Everything is usually based around my dog and making sure that we’ve had at least one walk together and that she’s had her food and everything. I’ve also kicked up my workout. I’m having a bowl of pasta today—I just ordered a bowl of Penne Bolognese. [laughs] You know you’ve got to get your fuel in. I’ve got to have my protein and carbs, like I’m going to run a marathon tonight. All those kinds of things, but not really. Right now, if you want to know the truth, I’m laying on my balcony, in the sun, while I’m talking to you. I’m going to work tonight, but we’re going to have fun.

We love you as an awards show host, especially your outfits. Do you have whole team helping you figure out all the outfits for tonight? I know you like to style yourself.
A lot of it does come from me, but my friend Erin is helping with the costume element. The glam style element is happening with my friend James. We’ll see how they turn out. I’ve designed two choices of dresses that I hope will turn out as planned. It’s been very rough, because I was going for my sister’s wedding, so we didn’t have lot of time. I had two ideas that came … so we’ll see. I’ve been doing this for years. I’m a big re-worker. I’ll rework vintage clothing. I think the first time I did it was Black Girls Rock. The first time I did it for TV, I made the gold sequins pants and t-shirt. I also made my American Music Awards dress.

Would you ever consider doing a talk show—it seems like a great next step.
That’s a great idea. Put that information around; put that into the universe. I’d do it. I think I would want more of a variety show than a talk show, like bringing back a Carol Burnett type of show. I’d come out in a glamorous gown and do some sketchers and talk to people. I would love that, but you know, how many things can a person do in a week? How many things can a girl do in a lifetime?

Will TMurda be making an appearance tonight at the BET Awards?
Apparently there’s a restraining order between  Tracee and TMurda. I’m hosting, so I don’t know if TMurda is even allowed to be in the building. This fledgling rapper that’s so curious about becoming a rap star, somehow got very hostile with me. I was like, I’m so proud of her work. She’s hostile with me though.

What does Anthony Anderson think of TMurda?
If you check out Anthony’s program on Instagram, you’ll see TMurda is his inspiration. He wears TMurda t-shirts and sweat shirts during his workout. I think TMurda wants to do like some sort of collabo with Anthony, but again, I think we’re going to have to deal with the restraining order, because I don’t know how she’s going to come on set.

You and Anthony make such a great team.
I can’t say enough. I love that man. I respect him. I so enjoy working with him. There are things that I’m afraid to do that doing them with Anthony don’t feel scary. I feel like there’s just a mutual respect and joy that we have with each other and there’s things that I find in working with him that I don’t know that I could find on my own. It’s about the dance that happens between two people. He’s a very generous actor. He’s a very generous comedian and he’s just an awesome guy. We come from such different worlds and we have very different sensibilities, but we have similar styles of comedy. I just love working with him.

The BET Awards air tonight at 8pm EST on BET.