Tracee Ellis Ross was not okay with portraying the standard sitcom mom on black-ish. The award-winning actress questioned story lines that featured her character engaging in gendered housework on the Kenya Barris–led show.
For six seasons, Ross has portrayed Rainbow Johnson, a doctor and mother of five who’s just as likely to be seen scrubbing into surgery as she is carrying a load of laundry.
“What I did speak up about from the beginning was, ‘Why am I carrying laundry?’ ‘Why am I the person in the kitchen cooking right now when this has nothing to do with the scene?’ Even sometimes when it does have something to do with the scene,” she said on the L.A. Times podcast Can’t Stop Watching.
She created a term for the stereotypical script moments. “I started coining them as lady chores,” she said.
“Why am I doing the lady chores? Can’t Anthony [Anderson] do the lady chore?” she asked black-ish writers.
The actress and producer wanted to portray a balanced domestic relationship on the show and normalize spouses deciding to do the household tasks that suit them.
“I don’t believe they’re ‘lady chores.’ I believe they’re house chores. And I don’t believe that we should assume, because I believe every relationship is a negotiation between two people about what each of them feels comfortable doing,” she added.
“I think the more that we portray that on television, the more that that becomes the reality out in the world, or matches the reality that the world actually is,” she said.