Actress Tracee Ellis Ross is the cover girl for UPTOWN Magazine‘s February/March 2012 Hollywood issue.
In an exclusive interview, the style icon and daughter of legendary Diana Ross dishes on the roots of her amazing fashion sense, her role as Dr. Carla Reed on BET‘s Reed Between The Lines, her friendship with Kanye West and more.
Enjoy some highlights from the interview as well gorgeous behind-the-scenes photos from the shoot below.
On experiencing fashion:
“I have loved magazines since I was a child … And let me explain something, I do not read magazines, I look at the pictures … When I was in high school I would make wish boards. They were feelings and images, not words. It was all fashion.”
On coming out of her shell:
“I was shy, but it came out in a big personality. My turning point was when I let my hair go naturally and I got contact lenses. I am really blind, by the way. I have these big eyes that don’t work!”
On Diana Ross paving her way:
“My mom’s career gave me the benefit of a great life and influenced my style and who I am as a person. I felt afraid about that early on in my career, [but] I am comfortable enough in my own skin now. And Hollywood does not work like that. They will unlock the door, but they sit back and wait to see how you are going to walk through the door.”
On the difference between Carla Reed and Joan Clayton:
“I enjoyed playing a different role. Carla is so different from Joan. And I am at a different point in my life. Joan and Carla are pieces of me. But I am much more than both of them. Joan was a very specific piece of me. She was neurotic, faithless, and afraid, which lends itself to some really good humor. Carla is the evolved version of Joan. She has the love that Joan was looking for, so it creates humor from a different place.”
On taking risks:
“As a younger person, my philosophy was jump off a cliff. I realize now that there are stairs and elevators. I am learning every day to allow the space between where I am and where I want to be to inspire me and not terrify me. I can even ask for help! Not feeling that I have to know everything, and that’s where the growth comes in, in the not knowing.”
On her “lily pad moment”:
“It’s the time when you come above water and you are aware of your surroundings. I was thinking: Oh my! This is my life? How did I get here? And better yet, what am I going to do with it?”
On her friendship with Kanye West:
“Kanye and I are neighbors [in L.A.], so we would see each other. Then we were introduced by a mutual friend, and he asked me to be in the video for his song ‘The New Workout Plan’. We can talk for hours about fashion. His closet is ridiculous. I will see him, and he will look down and ask, ‘Azzedine Alaia?’ and I am like, ‘Yeah.’ When I showed him the clip of me in the Thierry Mugler show, he was like, ‘Shut the fuck up! I am obsessed with those two seasons of Mugler.’ We are good friends.”
On her romantic relationship:
“I am not going to hide my relationship, but I am not talking about it. When you do that, you invite other people and their opinions and issues in. You can’t discover the person on your own.”