Tracee Ellis Ross, 49, says she's 'really proud' of who she's become: 'I actually feel comfortable in my skin now'

·4 min read

Tracee Ellis Ross is opening up about her personal evolution. Gracing the cover of InStyle magazine, the Black-ish star took time to reflect on her life and career, and how she’s still just a work in progress.

"I'm really proud of who I've become as a woman that, at 49 years old, I can hold both the grief for what hasn't happened and also the joy for what is happening,” the actress said. “I’m present in my experience with a sense of wholeness I really could not have imagined when I was growing up because I had a lot of discomfort in my skin.”

“I actually feel comfortable in my skin now,” she continued. “If you had told me that was going to happen, I don't know that I would've believed you."

Part of that journey, she explained, is coming to terms with the realization that joy and contentment starts and ends on her terms.

"Culturally, young girls are taught to dream of their wedding and not the life they want to be living or the people they want to become," Ross, who is happily single, said. "I was not spared that messaging as a child — not from my mom or my dad, but from the world that we lived in. I spent a lot of time dreaming of my wedding. I can only imagine how much more I would've dreamt of — or how much sooner I would've got to some of my dreams — had we been in the conversation that we're in now, had I had people like myself and others to hear from as different examples of how to cultivate happiness and joy and a life that matches you."

Of course, none of that is to say she doesn’t experience anxiety in the spotlight.

"During the [work] process I'm clear on what I love, and then sometimes I land on that red carpet and I turn into a mess,” she said. “I’m like, 'Oh, my God. Everyone's laughing at me. This is terrible.'"

Ellis has found that the secret to overcoming the voices in her head is having gratitude.

"Yesterday I woke up and I had such a good day," she explained, adding that by nighttime she was overcome with unease. "It was absurd. I literally was like, 'How did I go from the best day ever to having so much anxiety right now?' If you think of all the brightness and joy that I hold, I have the same on the other side. I deal with — like everybody — disappointment, sadness, bad days, lots of anxiety. I fall back on gratitude, and that's usually where my attitude changes."

The actress has opened up in recent months about her embracing this new phase in her life — especially now that Black-ish's series finale is on the horizon next week.

Last year, in the November cover story for Harper’s Bazaar, she spoke candidly about her journey toward self-discovery and acceptance, both of which have gotten clearer with age.

“Learning to be me has been a really long journey,” Ross said. “I tried being small and feeling things in little ways. It took me a long time to get to know myself, to accept myself, and even on some days to really like and love myself. And then it took me a whole other load of years to have the courage to actually live in the world as that person. And it’s been trial and error, chewing on ground glass. It’s been a hard-earned journey of self-discovery and self-acceptance. I mean, I came out of the womb like this. I literally think I was like, ‘Woo-hoo! I’m here. What have you got? Let’s go!’”

The actress added that while “going through perimenopause" is “really frying my brain,” she’s choosing to see the experience as something gained rather than lost.

“It is the most glorious invitation into a new season and chapter in my life,” she said of approaching menopause, yet "there’s no information about it. There’s shame talking about it.”

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