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Anthony Anderson says ‘Black-ish’ co-star Tracee Ellis Ross didn’t like him for 'maybe 10 years'

Despite their on-screen chemistry today, their relationship behind the scenes wasn’t always as strong.
Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross on their ABC sitcom "black-ish."
Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross on their ABC sitcom "black-ish."Richard Cartwright / ABC
/ Source: TODAY

Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross have played married couple Dre and Rainbow Johnson for over seven years on the hit-ABC series “black-ish,” but their relationship behind the scenes wasn’t always as strong as it is today.

“We laugh about this now, but Tracee didn’t like me for maybe 10 years!” the comedian revealed in a new interview with Parade published on Dec. 31, 2021.

Anderson, 51, said that the two initially met when they hosted the Vibe Awards in 2005 and he didn’t make the best first impression.

“As we were walking onto the stage there was a loud sound over the speaker, and I said, “Tracee? Did you fart?” he recalled. “The audience loved it, but what I did not know is how offended Tracee was by that comment.”

ABC's "black-ish" stars Anthony Anderson as Andre "Dre" Johnson and Tracee Ellis Ross as Rainbow Johnson.
"Black-ish" stars Anthony Anderson as Dre Johnson and Tracee Ellis Ross as Rainbow Johnson.Dario Calmese / ABC

The two reunited when Anderson appeared on Ross’s sitcom “Reed Between the Lines” in 2011. Despite all of Anderson’s scenes being with Ross, he remembered she would leave the stage when he filmed his close-up shots and say something like, “The stage is Anthony’s!”

At the time, Anderson said he thought she was showing him “the utmost respect as an actor.” 

He explained, “I was like “Oh, my God, I’ve never been treated like this before! I was a guest star on her show, and she was just giving me her set!”

Later, he looked back on their interactions and realized Ross did not want to be near him. 

“She really didn’t start liking me until we were midway through the first season of 'black-ish,' and so we laugh about it now,” he shared. “But today, there’s nothing that I would not do for Tracee.”

Almost two decades later, now Anderson and Ross are preparing to say goodbye to “black-ish” which starts airing its eighth and final season on Jan. 4. 

Rainbow and Dre share a laugh on "black-ish."
Rainbow and Dre share a laugh on "black-ish."Richard Cartwright / ABC

Anderson gushed over his longtime co-star and said, “We work the same, we learn the same, we are there for one another, and we have the ability to work with such fearlessness when we’re together, because we know that we will never allow the other to fall.”

During his interview with Parade, the "Law & Order” star also opened up about his childhood and the significant role his mother, Doris, has played in helping him succeed in film and television.

The mother-and-son duo co-host the game show “To Tell the Truth” as well as the prank series “House Haunters.”

Speaking about their hosting partnership, Anderson said, “My mom put her dreams of being an actor on hold when she became a single mother at 17 with me, so for me to be in a position to be able to allow my mother to live her dream? I was like, ‘You know what, Mom? Come on this ride with me.’” 

But, it was not an easy road for Anderson and his mother to get to where they are now. He grew up in Compton, Calif. during the “height of gang violence.” The comedian said that everyone in his family was funny which helped them get through difficult times.

ABC's "To Tell The Truth" - Season Six
Doris Hancox and Anderson. Ron Batzdorff / ABC via Getty Images

Mother Doris worked as a telephone operator for Los Angeles County while his father, Sterling, worked in steel mills before he started working in women’s fashion. 

“It wasn’t always good, just in terms of growing up check to check, hand-to-mouth,” he shared. Still, the family pushed through the tough moments and “everything was always handled with a sense of humor.” 

While living in Compton, he learned loyalty, the importance of family and how to be quick on his feet. Now, Anderson uses his childhood experiences to inspire others.

“I go back to the schools that I went to as a child and I talk to them,” he said. “I’m here to let you know that with hard work, perseverance, dedication, you too can achieve whatever it is you want to achieve in life, as long as you put the work in. I’m a living testament to that right now.”