When the sitcom “Girlfriends” was on in the early 2000s, it was a big hit in Black households. So some might’ve thought that its lead Tracee Ellis Ross was a big star in the eyes of Hollywood.
But that wasn’t the case, according to what she revealed during a recent interview on Essence’s “The Color Files” podcast.
According to Ellis Ross, while “Girlfriends” was on from 2000-2008, she was never invited to a late-night talk show or one of the major award shows, despite the much beloved sitcom being so popular.
“My career was not handed to me,” she explained. “When I was on ‘Girlfriends,’ I couldn’t even get on a late-night show. No joke. I was never on Jay Leno, David Letterman, any of those shows. I was the lead. It was a huge hit in our community and we had a lot of eyeballs.”
“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,” the actress added. “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.”
Ellis Ross also said she struggled to find work after “Girlfriends” ended, and she had somewhat of a low profile until “black-ish” began in 2014.
The 46-year-old did play on the failed BET sitcom “Reed Between The Lines” with Malcolm-Jamal Warner in 2011, however. But she left after the first season to shoot a pilot that was never picked up, and “Reed Between The Lines” was later canceled.
During her interview, Ellis Ross also admitted to thinking “The pearly gates of Hollywood” would open for her after “Girlfriends” ended but just the opposite occurred.
During that time, however, the former model said she learned not to attach her self-worth to her career, which is an approach she’s held on to.
And these days, Ellis Ross’ career seems to be going better than ever, because not only does she star in one of the hottest shows in “black-ish,” she’s also a producer on the series. It’s something she talked about during a separate interview on the “Tamron Hall Show” last month.
“They [the titles] don’t matter to me, but they matter in the context of our history and our world and our life and as women and as black women they do,” she explained.
“And I think it’s really important for us to have equity in the things that we create. And I think culturally and historically that hasn’t been the case. Personally, the title is not the thing, it’s being involved in creating content,” Ellis Ross added.