A new comedy premiering on Wednesday.
The character Tracee Ellis Ross plays on the new ABC comedy "black-ish" strikes home with the actresses background growing up.
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Ross never grew up worrying about what having a mixed racial background was going to do to her future, the actress concedes having a black mother and white father opened up ways for her to joke about her race to people.
"It started for me on my college application process," said the actress, during an interview in July in Beverly Hills. "When they asked us to check a box, I checked both. Or sometimes I wouldn't check any box."
On Wednesday, the former "Girlfriends" actress can been seen in the new ABC comedy "black-ish" with co-star Anthony Anderson. Ross will play Rainbow Johnson, a doctor, wife and mother of four children whose father has trouble coming to grips with them losing their cultural identity.
"It's really a fun thing to be able to explore through a television character. Especially on a show like this," said Ross, the daughter of singer Diana Ross and her first husband, Robert Ellis Silberstein.
"We've finally been able to get to a place where we can pull apart the monolithic idea of one race or another and actually move the dialogue into a class or cultural conversation, realizing that there are different layers, pieces to the experience," Ross said. "And that's part of why exploring a mixed character on a show like this is so interesting to me. Because we do actually get to have the conversation, without leaning on it."
The show was created by Anderson and Kenya Barris. The show started off with a conversation with Anderson's 12-year-old son mentioning to his father, “Dad, I don’t feel black.”
In the show Anderson’s character has to cope with a son who’d rather play field hockey with his white friends than basketball — the writers explore what happens when your cultural frame of reference loses meaning. “I think it’s great that they really love each other to the point that Andre’s insanity is actually charming to her,” Ross says.
One thing that helps, Ross said, is "that we are not a family that happens to be black. We are a black family. But we are not talking about, and exploring, what it is to be black. Because often [on television] you are a family who happens to be black. So you're not really owning that. Or you're a family who's black, talking about black issues."
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The first episode of "black-ish" appears on Wednesday at 9:30pm EST on ABC.