With her memorably statuesque figure and alluring countenance, African-American model-turned-actress Tracee Ellis Ross (the daughter of chanteuse Diana Ross and Robert Ellis Silberstein) plunged headfirst into print and fashion work with such enthusiasm and vigor that she became a frequent presence on the covers of such magazines as Essence, Jet, and Vibe Vixen, posing for such legends as Herb Ritts and Francesco Scavullo. Within this arena, Ross commandeered attention to rival any of her runway contemporaries. Ross segued into acting in the mid- to late '90s, with contributions such efforts as the low-key, ensemble-oriented psychological drama Far Harbor (1996, her cinematic debut) and Jim Yukich's romantic comedy A Fare to Remember (1999), and hosted the Lifetime talk program The Dish, before making her biggest splash as thirtysomething attorney-turned-restaurant proprietor Joan Clayton on the blockbuster UPN sitcom Girlfriends -- which enjoyed a lengthy run, maintained exemplary ratings, and netted more than a few industry awards for Ross. In 2007, the actress teamed up with writer/director Tyler Perry and actress Gabrielle Union for the big-screen romantic comedy Tyler Perry's Daddy's Little Girls. A recurring role on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation followed in 2011, and that same year Ross starred opposite Cosby Show alumni Malcolm-Jamal Warner in the BET sitcom Reed Between the Lines, which followed a psychiatrist and a professor as they struggled to balance their careers with their roles as parents to three multi-racial children.
Biography by Nathan Southern
- One of her college friends was singer-musician Duncan Sheik.
- Worked as a fashion editor for Mirabella and New York magazines.
- Big TV break came in 1997 when she won the hosting gig for The Dish, a weekly pop-culture magazine on Lifetime.
- Appeared in two Kanye West videos: "The New Workout Plan" (2004) and "Touch the Sky" (2006).
- Cites Carol Burnett and Lucille Ball as her idols.
- Has received eight NAACP Image Award nominations in the Outstanding Actress in a Comedy category for her role on Girlfriends; she won twice.
- Is passionately involved with a number of non-profits dedicated to improving the lives of at-risk teens, including Big Brothers Big Sisters and Aviva Family and Children's Services in Los Angeles.