Glamour’s article about Tracee Ellis Ross, from back in January, was a pleasure — so much so that, when my brain tricked me into thinking it had been much more recent (I genuinely thought it was from June), I still thought to myself, “Ooh, but I’m excited to read another one.” Her parts of this InStyle story are sparkling, as usual; she’s insightful and intelligent, and when it just quotes her directly, I am the happiest. Maybe the next one should just be “Tracee Ellis Ross talks unedited.” But of course, there are nits to pick. For one, it tries to pull off this trick where it purports to tsk at her constantly being asked to answer for being single and having no kids at 45… while also, yes, totally getting her to talk about being single and having no kids at 45. Maybe that was her line of conversation, I don’t know. It just struck me. But what got me immediately was the lede:
The sky is turning dusky over the Soho House in West Hollywood, and Tracee Ellis Ross, nestled into a sofa on the roof garden, gazes out at the downtown skyline and then in toward a beefy blond man she calls “the best of the lumber-jacky thing,” insisting that he is not her type and then insisting that she has no type. The violet hour is Ross’s favorite time of day — to pour herself a glass of wine, to take a bath, and to do the “wandering and pondering” that her increasingly busy schedule has turned into a luxury.
I shared both sentences to give you a sense of how that first one doesn’t go anywhere. It is the OPENING LINE of your profile, and… what is that supposed to be saying about her, exactly? It’s a very odd first pitch, and it goes nowhere. She never talks to the dude. There is no further reference to him. The connection to it being her “wandering and pondering” time is tenuous at best, and it doesn’t turn into something illustrative of the interview experience itself. So, while I am profoundly grateful that the author didn’t draw a line between that and any latent horniness, I just don’t… it’s just weird, right? It’s weird. It’s a strange opening line.
And then of course, the second paragraph is:
“In the last few years, things I thought were off the table happened,” says Ross, wearing a long chartreuse dress swirling with flowers. Her attention is suddenly diverted by the arrival of a plate of cheese — an unaccustomed indulgence, at the taste of which her eyes close and her face tilts upward in a sort of caricature of rapture.
Yes, that’s right, it’s another round of What Did The Famous Woman Eat, and Does She Do That All The Time? It also totally gets in the way of the flow between the end of the first paragraph and the beginning of the third. Like a gigantic speed bump that you have to heave over so slowly that you forget where you just were.
And yet it could not always have been easy being the daughter of one of the world’s most famous people at the height of her fame — a topic Ross plans to explore in a memoir she is working on. “It’s a lot,” she says. “It’s not navigable without a parent who is choosing you over everyone else. I grew up the way Blue Ivy [Carter, Jay-Z and Beyoncé’s daughter] is growing up — although at least there wasn’t social media.” Ross inherited her mother’s — and father’s — love of fashion. (Consider the fact that for her 18th birthday, she flew the Concorde to Paris, stayed in Azzedine Alaïa’s apartment, and got to choose three outfits from his archives.) She worked briefly as a fashion editor after college before dabbling in modeling. Then she started auditioning. But to this day, one of her favorite activities is visiting the racks of clothing in her mother’s storage unit.
First, that’s a very interesting parallel between herself and Blue Ivy. Second, this paragraph is really clunky and graceless in the way it switches topics. Third, based on just the details in that last bit, I am going to read the hell out of this memoir. I hope she does an entire chapter on the Alaïa outing.