Daughter of singing legend Diana Ross, Tracee Ellis Ross is widely recognized as Joan Clayton (2000-Present), the unofficial "den mother" of the group, a former high-powered young attorney who runs the hip restaurant/bar “J-Spot” on UPN (now The CW) hit sitcom “Girlfriends.” She first entered the big screen in an independent film called Far Harbor (1996) and has since appeared in such films as Sue (1997), A Fare to Remember (1998), Hanging Up (2000) and In the Weeds (2000). Next, she will co-star as Idris Elba's ex-wife who comes back into his life and threatens to gain custody of their three little girls in Tyler Perry's Daddy's Little Girls.
Initially working as a model before becoming an actress, 5' 7" tall, wide-eyed, curly-haired Ross has appeared in cameos in the Kanye West videos “The New Workout Plan” and “Touch the Sky.” She was the cover girl in the Fall 2006 edition of "Vibe Vixen."
Childhood and Family:
Daughter of legendary singer-actress Diana Ross and Robert Ellis Silberstein, Tracee Joy Silberstein was born on October 29, 1972 in Los Angeles, California. The second of Ross’ children, Tracee has four siblings: Rhonda Ross Kendrick (half sister; born August 14, 1971), Chudney Lane Silberstein (sister; born November 4, 1975), Ross Arne Naess (half brother; born October 7, 1987) and Evan Olaf Næss (half brother; born August 26, 1988). She is the niece of Arthur 'T-Boy' Ross.
Ross attended Riverdale Country School, Bronx, New York, and the Swiss boarding school Institut Le Rosey, along with her sister Rhonda Ross Kendrick, and was enrolled in 1985. She is a graduate of Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island (1994), where she appeared in plays, and the esteemed William Esper Acting Studio, New York, New York. Although a New Yorker at heart, Ross currently lives in Los Angeles.
Daddy's Little Girls
Working as a model when she was younger, Tracee Ellis Ross was photographed by some of the most highly regarded fashion photographers in the fashion industry, including Herb Ritts, Peter Lindberg, Francesco Scavullo and Mario Testino. She has graced the pages of top fashion and consumer magazines, including Harper's Bazaar, Essence, Life, US, O and In Style. She has also appeared in advertising campaigns for The Gap, Donna Karan Collection, DKNY and Paul Mitchell. She also has worked as a contributing fashion editor for Mirabella and New York magazines.
Ross made her big screen debut as a Jewish/African-American mixed race woman in John Huddles' independent feature Far Harbor (1996; co-starring Jennifer Connelly and Marcia Gay Harden). And following her television debut as host of “The Dish” (1997), a Lifetime TV magazine series keeping tabs on pop culture offerings in film, television and print, Ross was named by the Los Angeles Times as a "Face to Watch."
Meanwhile, Ross appeared in Amos Kollek’s odd independent feature Sue (1997; starring Anna Levine and Matthew Powers), and co-starred with Ariana Richards, Susan Blakely and William Bumiller in the NBC emotional drama movie Race Again Fear: A Moment of Truth Movie (1998), about a young track star who remains silent after being raped by her coach.
In the new millennium, Ross landed on her most popular role to date, as Joan Clayton (2000-Present), the unofficial "den mother" of the group, a former high-powered young attorney who runs the hip restaurant/bar “J-Spot” on UPN (now The CW) hit sitcom “Girlfriends.” Her performance on the show later won Ross a BET Comedy award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series. She was also nominated six NAACP Image Award nominations for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series.
During her “Girlfriends” years, Ross played the incompetent assistant of Meg Ryan's character in Diane Keaton's film adaptation of Delia Ephron's book, Hanging Up (2000), and acted in writer-director Michael Rauch's festival-screened independent In the Weeds (2000; with Molly Ringwald and Ellen Pompeo). She was also regular on MTV’s hip-hop variety series "The Lyricist Lounge Show" (2000), teaming with Heather McDonald playing two ridiculously two-faced, back-stabbing girlfriends.
Ross guest starred in a November 2004 episode of UPN’s short-lived comedy series "Second Time Around" before returning on the big screen to Eric Steven Stahl's independent comedy film I-See-You.Com (2006; with Beau Bridges, Shiri Appleby and Rosanna Arquette) and in Nelson George's true story-based drama film Life Support (2007; alongside Queen Latifah). Soon, she will be seen as Idris Elba's ex-wife who comes back into his life and threatens to gain custody of their three little girls in writer-director Tyler Perry's Daddy's Little Girls, which will be released on February 23, 2007.
Adding to her on screen acting, Ross' theatrical experience includes a leading role in "The Vagina Monologues." She made her debut at the Canon Theater in Los Angeles and has also performed with the production in San Francisco. Most recently, she appeared in “Blackout” at the Egyptian Theater in Los Angeles.
- BET Comedy: Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, "Girlfriends," 2005