Tracee Ellis Ross Was Never Booked On A Late Night Show During ‘Girlfriends’
Presley Ann/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Despite the success of the hit TV series Girlfriends back in the day, Tracee Ellis Ross wasn’t always getting invited to be part of Hollywood’s inner circle as she is today.

ESSENCE’s October cover star opened up about never being invited to late night talk shows or even award shows during the height of her run on the series, which went off the air in 2008 after six seasons.

“When I was on Girlfriends, I couldn’t even get on a late night show. No joke. I was never on any of those shows,” the black-ish star told Julee Wilson, ESSENCE’s Global Beauty Director, on the latest episode of The Color Files podcast. “And I remember the talent agent at one of those late night talk shows said, ‘Call us when Tracee gets something. She’s amazing. We love her. Call us when she gets something.’ I was on Girlfriends. I was the lead. It was a huge hit in our community and we had a lot of eyeballs.”

She continued: “But I had never gone to the Golden Globes. I’d never gone to the Emmys. I’d never gone to any of those award shows. All of that has happened since I got on black-ish in my mid-40s. None of that was a part of my experience in the early part of my career.”

Girlfriends, the Mara Brock Akil hit comedy, not only became a fan favorite it spawned a successful spin-off, The Game, which ran for nine seasons on BET.

Once the show concluded, Ross said she expected more movie roles to land on her lap, but that never happened. The disappointment, she said, was a blessing in many ways because it “forced” her to become comfortable with where she was in her career and life.

Promotional portrait of the cast of the UPN television series ‘Girlfriends,’ Los Angeles, California, January 5, 2004. Left to right American actresses Jill Marie Jones, Persia White, Tracee Ellis Ross, and Golden Brooks. (Photo by Darien Davis/CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images)

“It forced my soul to continue to search for what it longed for, dreamt of wanted to be,” she explained. “It allowed me to continue to create an unbreakable, unshakable foundation for my life…a relationship with myself that was based not on what everybody outside is saying, but was about what I believed was good and right.”

“It allowed me to continue to grow as a person and realize what it is that I wanted from my life, what it is that I wanted to share, what I had to offer—that I was enough, that I really felt that I was deserving and worthy of many of these things in my career.”

Ross said that the stalling of walking into Hollywood’s inner circle allowed her to “own” her success. “But I could also own what might look like failure,” she continued. “I could just be with me. I could literally be my own best friend and mirror and my worth is not tangled up and what even I think I should be getting.”

And now Ross gets to combine the two shows that have been major breakthroughs in her career on one episode.

Girlfriends stars Golden Brooks, Persia White and Jill Marie Jones are joining Ross for an upcoming episode of black-ish that will air on October 8.

Listen to Ross now on the latest episode of The Color Files.

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