Tracee Ellis Ross needn’t prove what an absolute boss she is (see: when she schooled audiences about sexual harassment on Saturday Night Live, when she designed a stun-ning, affordable and size-inclusive line for JC Penney and when she became the first Black woman in more than 30 years to win the Golden Globe for best actress in a comedy in 2017) but here she goes again, this time teaching a master class in how to respond to rumours.
In a statement pinned to her Twitter feed, the Black-ish actress cleared up reports that claimed she’d threatened to cut back appearances on the popular series if she wasn’t paid as much as her male costar Anthony Anderson.
Now, here’s the thing: we wouldn’t judge Ross if she had thrown down an ultimatum over salary renegotiations (in fact, we’d cheer her on). While we’d miss her desperately on Black-ish, we believe in pay equality, period. But it’s the way she responded—eloquent as ever, thoughtful as could be and, above all, supportive of women in the fight for equal pay—that makes Ross really stand out.
In a January 18 story in The Hollywood Reporter about how female actors are working to close the gender pay gap in the entertainment industry, the publication cited multiple sources who attended a Time’s Up meeting in which Ross’s salary negotiations were reportedly discussed. THR detailed how Ross made “significantly less” than Anderson and noted: “With negotiations for the fifth season ongoing, sources say Ellis Ross feels that if she isn’t brought up to Anderson’s level, she may opt to appear in fewer episodes to make up the disparity by guesting on another show.”
In a statement released on Twitter on January 20, Ross confirmed the contract renegotiations had taken place, stating that she wanted to be “compensated in a way that matches my contribution to a show that I love for many reasons, including the opportunity it allows me to reshape what it is to be a fully realized Black woman on TV.” However, she denied making any kind of threat. “The words and thoughts that were in the original article that started this public conversation were not mine; there were never any threats,” she said. “I wish I would have been called by the reporter to confirm that.”
In short: she did work to renegotiate to be compensated fairly (boss), but she wishes she could have spoken about it herself instead of being misquoted in the media (also boss).
Here’s her statement in full:
Slow clap, amiright? Speaking of much-deserved cheering, Ross took part in the “I Am an Actor” introduction at the 2018 SAG Awards on January 21—a tradition kicking off the annual ceremony where select attendees share words of wisdom from their experience in show biz. Her message was part of an all-female segment featuring Allison Janney and Millie Bobby Brown, and it was nothing short of inspiring—and relatable.
Ross, who has been a member of SAG-AFTRA since 1995, spoke about her earliest desires to set out and make a difference in the world—and build a major shoe collection every step of the way. “When I was a little girl, I dreamt of growing up and being a courageous woman who could use my voice for important issues that affect all of us… and have a lot of shoes,” she said. “Well, I am happy to report that both are true.”
She continued: “I utilize my voice and my agency for equity and justice for our industry and beyond, and I have so many shoes. OK, like I have a lot of shoes! I am Tracee Ellis Ross, and I am an actor.”
Could she be any more delightful?
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