Tracee Ellis Ross has called her first Emmy nomination both “exciting and validating.”
The 43-year-old actress made history when she became the first African-American woman in 30 years to be nominated for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series thanks to her role as Rainbow Johnson in “black-ish.”
In a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Ross praised the show’s writers for their unique approach to weaving race- and identity-driven topics into a comedy.
“They have found this beautiful tone of being a multi-generational, character-driven family comedy that deals with race, identity and what this family actually would be walking through currently,” she said. “How do you raise your kids when they have more than you [did], in a different world than you have [known], and pass on to them what it is that you want them to know and to have in their lives?”
Ross added that the show has done a great job approaching gender and a wife’s role. “This is not a story that’s told through the wife’s eyes. To a certain extent, it’s the traditional wife role, but that is not the way I play it nor is it the way that it’s written,” she said. “That’s also very topical for what is happening in terms of feminism and how women are being portrayed, matching the way we are in our actual lives.”
Since its 2014 debut, the hit ABC series has earned rave reviews and Emmy buzz for the cast’s performance, and has been scrutinized for its title.
Kenya Barris, the show’s creator, recently denounced those claims during a Television Critics Association summer press tour panel, saying the show’s theme extends beyond race-related topics.
“We’re so divisive as a community and we always have to box everything in, and I kind of feel like, isn’t it just a good family show?” he said. “It’s specifically about a black family, but don’t you see yourself in it?”
As for her Emmy nod, Ross says it’s a testament to “black-ish.”
“At 43 years old, to have something as exciting and validating as this to occur is just really special,” she went on to tell The Hollywood Reporter. “And to be nominated for this show in particular — not that I feel more proud of it than other work that I’ve done, not more proud of it than ‘Girlfriends’ — but there is something very, very specifically special about what we’re doing [on ‘black-ish’].”
The 68th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards will broadcast on ABC on Sept. 18. Read more of Tracee Ellis Ross’ interview with The Hollywood Reporter here.