Tracee Ellis Ross on the perception of Black hair: 'There's been a real shift'

The "Black-ish" star sat down with Kerry Washington for a candid conversation on natural hair.
After expanding her natural hair care brand Pattern earlier this summer, the actor is opening up about her own hair journey in ELLE.com's inaugural State of Black Beauty cover story.
After expanding her natural hair care brand Pattern earlier this summer, the actor is opening up about her own hair journey in ELLE.com's inaugural State of Black Beauty cover story.Photo Illustration/Getty Images
/ Source: TODAY

Tracee Ellis Ross wants Black women to appreciate just how beautiful their hair really is.

After expanding her natural hair care brand Pattern earlier this summer, the actor is opening up about her own hair journey in ELLE.com's inaugural State of Black Beauty cover story.

The 47-year-old got together with Kerry Washington over Zoom to chat for the magazine's special edition and reflected on how society's view of Black hair has influenced her.

“I think back to 10 years ago, I went to the Essence Music Festival and a woman was like, ‘Girl, you’re on TV. You need to get your hair done.’ And I was like, ‘What do you mean?’ She was like, ‘Put some heat on your hair! What are you doing?’,” the "Black-ish" star said.

“Growing up, we all went through this experience, where straight hair was your dressed-up hair. The blowout, silky-whatever meant you became more presentable, more appropriate. It was your dressy, sexy version of you."

Over time, people's perception of Black hair has slowly evolved and Ross is excited to see the narrative change.

"I’ve had days, particularly during the pandemic, but even two years ago, where I looked at the news and I’m like, 'Oh my god.' You never used to see natural texture on a news anchor. There’s been a real shift," she said.

It took Ross about 10 years to get her hair care line up and running, and she's thrilled that she has the opportunity to celebrate the power of Black beauty.

"The importance for me in the journey has been encouraging, inspiring, and making space for people to go on that journey with themselves. To have the courage to dive into their own legacy of hair as a way to love themselves and be revolutionary," she said.

Over the past few years, Ross has enjoyed watching other women embrace their natural hair and shift the beauty conversation and she hopes it continues.

"I'm really grateful that we, actresses and hair stylists and artists, have all been revealing more of our authentic, natural beauty. That we've made those choices on red carpets and on covers and TV shows. When I see you do it, it makes me want to do it more," she said. "The cycle just continues of us encouraging and uplifting each other to just be ourselves."

Part of celebrating your own authentic beauty is tapping into your voice, but Ross is the first to admit that it can take a lot of courage to advocate for yourself. Still, she thinks it's pretty worth it.

She said, "As a woman, and as a Black woman, advocating for yourself is actually a form of resistance. It is how each of us push the world to make sure that the real estate matches the reality of who we are and what we deserve."