Tracee Ellis Ross is weary. The election and its aftermath, the societal unrest, the pandemic—it’s all weighing heavily on her mind. “The work begins now, but how can the work begin now when we’re all so tired?” she wonders out loud. “We need a minute to heal and make sense of it.”
Yet minutes are the one thing the actress, entrepreneur, and singer doesn’t have to spare. In addition to her successful career on the big and small screens, Ross’s haircare line, Pattern Beauty, is on fire—when it first launch last year, several of the brand’s products sold out online. And now, she’s giving O an exclusive first look at the latest launches: a foray into treatment products, including a hair mask and a scalp serum.
So how has she been able to stay focused on her “wonderfully full plate” during these unprecedented times? “Self-care is built into what I do every day,” she says. “Also, the way I’ve built my life, and at the core of all of my businesses, is the same mission: the celebration of humanity and the pursuit of safety, equity, and justice for everyone. I’m fueled by that.”
Here, Ross shares her hopes for the world in 2021, why personal maintenance means making her bed every morning, and the reasons her Pattern products are all about “honoring” natural hair.
You’ve got a lot going on—how do you stay focused?
Focusing is not so easy right now. This is not my favorite version of things.
To put it lightly, right?
To put it lightly. This is not the way I would choose for things to be going. I’m not in charge of things. I am not God, I am not Mother Nature; I gave up that illusion of control a long time ago. I’m just going to keep showing up and doing my best, and also acknowledge that I don’t always have to do it all. I try and wear the clothes of my life loosely. I remember a friend of mine a long time ago saying, “Are you okay right now? Right now?” And when I ask myself that question, it allows me the space to really be connected.
That’s true mindfulness, isn’t it?
Yeah. And that’s something I practice.
You’ve talked about embracing little moments of daily self-care. What does that mean?
Making sure that I eat—I often forget when I’m busy. I make my bed every morning. It’s a ritual that tethers me to my humanity, and I can get in a fresh bed like I’m in a hotel. I’m one of those people who takes the garbage out before it gets smelly. I’m not a person who waits until you can’t fit anything else in the garbage can. The house I’m in right now doesn’t have a dishwasher, and I haven’t had one for 18 years. I do my best at the end of the day to do my dishes so that when I walk into the kitchen in the morning, there’s a clean kitchen.
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