What Tracee Ellis Ross Teaches Us About Potential

Mountain peak representing accomplishments

Last night, Tracee Ellis Ross won a Golden Globe. She was the first black actress to win Best Actress in a Comedy since 1983, when Debbie Allen won for Fame.

I’m a long time admirer of Ms. Ross, and I loved her speech. I was especially touched when she dedicated her award to

“all the women, women of color, and colorful people whose stories, ideas, thoughts are not always considered worthy and valid and important. But I want you to know that I see you. We see you.”  

(To hear the speech, click here: http://www.vox.com/culture/2017/1/8/14208600/golden-globes-tracee-ellis-ross-speech)

I was moved by another truth that Tracee’s win teaches us, though.

There are always further heights to climb, if you’re willing to keep going.

I remember watching Girlfriends, a sitcom that she starred in for years in the early 2000s. It was much loved, and even after it went off the air, I’d see pictures of her in magazines praising her hair and her fashion. I know that she had a few other roles, but nothing else seemed to really spark for her.  I can’t have been the only one thinking that Joan from Girlfriends was to be her biggest and best role.

Then, Black-ish came on the scene. The show drew some skepticism based on its title, in an era when anything racial can be cast as racist. But quickly it drew a following, by showcasing a the challenges and joys of raising a middle class black family in the time of Obama (and soon to be Trump), when much of what we think we know about race is wrong.

Ross is hilarious and brilliant as Dr. Rainbow Johnson, and, in her 40s, she may have found her breakout role. Her character is the sort of woman that I and many of my clients aspire to be- loving, driven, intelligent, an excellent wife and mother. And in her speech for a win that didn’t seem a given (she was going against another of my favorite actresses, Gina Rodriguez of Jane the Virgin), she referenced an important life lesson for all of us.

“It’s nice at 44. I like it here!” she said. And in a gorgeous red lip, with her famous hair in a ponytail, and all of the sparkles, she did indeed look great.

Her work ethic, her willingness to keep going and growing, and her undeniable talent, helped her break a barrier both personal and systemic. She hasn’t let anyone count her out, and even as she’d reached heights few actresses do- starring for years on a sitcom- she wasn’t done.

So today, no matter how much you’ve accomplished, or not, let this victory remind you that you don’t have to be done.

Whether you were on one of those top 25 under 25 lists, or you took time off for your kids… Whether you’re just figuring out what you want in life, if you’re trying to balance work and home lives, if you’ve got it all together or if you’re overwhelmed, there’s still time.

YOU get to decide when you’ve peaked.

Today is a good day to get out there and keep after it. If you need support along the way to reach your potential, I’m here for you.


  1. […] believe that we each have our own power. Power to birth babies, be excellent parents, and live our best lives (according to our own […]

  2. Fantastic article post. Cool.

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