Actress and activist, Tracee Ellis Ross knows of the importance of developing oneself and is committed to inspiring other women to own the spaces they're in.
Along with other women in Hollywood, the actress is a prominent voice in the growing narrative that encourages women to unashamedly be themselves and free themselves of society's standards. She recently co-founded #Time'sUp, an initiative that is tackling the sexual harassment of women in the workforce. Her hope is for global female empowerment.
"What would it be like for women to completely own our own power, to have agency over our own glory and our sexuality, not in order to create a product or to sell it, or to feel worthy of love or use it as a tool for safety, but instead as a way of being."
When it comes to her work, Ross has always been conscious of the roles she plays and it should come as no surprise that the roles she is most known for are of successful women.
Joan Clayton from Girlfriends was a powerful attorney who opened a restaurant once she felt unfulfilled in her career. The series was one of the highest rated scripted shows on TV among African-American viewers aged 18-34.
Fast-forward a few years and multiple awards later, Ross swapped the courtroom for the surgeon's table as Dr Rainbow Johnson on the critically acclaimed tv series, Black-ish.
"Bow (Johnson) is still a sitcom wife and she could just be a wife wallpaper, a prop in her husband's world, yet she isn't. She's joyful and not joyful just because she is happy to be cooking dinner, washing dishes, or loving her husband. But joyful because she's embodying the fullness of her own life," Ross says of the character.
Women aren't defined by who we are in relationship to anything or anyone. We're valuable, powerful and entertaining, just because we are.
Her choice of these strong women characters is perhaps a reflection of who she is and what she wants other women to learn from her.
"I've always been myself, which I think is an important thing for a woman, to know who I am and not live according to what other people think I should be doing. I had the example of a person, my parent, really being fully herself."