The love that Tracee Ellis Ross shares with her TV daughter and “Black-ish” co-star Yara Shahidi is endearing.
Which is why Ross was the perfect person to introduce the 17-year-old recipient of the “Generation Next” award at the 10th Annual Essence Black Women in Hollywood Awards in Beverly Hills on Feb. 23, which aired Sunday on OWN. The Golden Globe-winning actress read a letter that emphasized how special their bond has become.
“Our relationship is important and is not just about me playing your mom on screen,” Ross told Shahidi onstage. “It is about what happens between takes, in the hair and makeup trailer, in our calls and text exchanges and when we see each other out in life as two brown girls with lots of hair that is either masterfully braided, bunned, or just flying free.”
Ross praised the young black and Iranian American actress not only for her tremendous growth, but also for using her platform to speak out about racial injustice and gender parity. Ross lauded Shahidi for finding her own voice and becoming comfortable in her own skin as a “strong, joyous and smart” black girl.
Ross stressed the importance of Shahidi’s presence on and off-screen for young girls. Ross ended her speech with some encouraging words for her TV daughter:
Young Yara ...
May you find acceptance, safety, joy and beauty in your own body.
May you stay curious and teachable.
As an artist, and as a girl with a platform, the invitation is set before you to continue to speak truth and to use your creative expression to deepen our understanding of humanity and further social progress. I know you will do so brilliantly.
Read Ross’ full letter to Shahidi here.