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Pattern Beauty CEO and Black-ish star Tracee Ellis Ross takes our career questionnaire

When I told a member of my team some years ago that I wanted to start a haircare line, their idea was to start a line of wigs!

Pattern Beauty CEO and Black-ish star Tracee Ellis Ross takes our career questionnaire
[Illustration: Jonny Ruzzo]
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Fast Company: What’s your best habit, and what’s your worst?

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Tracee Ellis Ross: Finding joy in life and overthinking.

FC: What do you do when you’re creatively stuck?

TER: I play dress-up in my closet and style a great look, or I organize.

FC: Is there a businessperson you admire?

TER: Madam C.J. Walker. She used her voice and power to expand the playing field and encourage empowerment and equity for Black women.

FC: Is there a buzzword you never want to hear again?

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TER: Diversity training. What is actually needed is anti-racism training.

FC: How do you unplug?

TER: Take social media off my phone, and spend some time with trees.

FC: Is there a book you recommend to everyone?

TER: When Things Fall Apart, by Pema Chödrön. It taught me how to be with the inevitable pain of life instead of being afraid of it.

FC: What’s the advice you’re glad you ignored?

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TER: When I told a member of my team some years ago that I wanted to start a haircare line, their idea was to start a line of wigs!

FC: What advice would you give your younger self?

TER: Things go slower than you think they should. And that doesn’t mean you are doing anything wrong. Trust the pace.

FC: Did you have a career fork in the road?

TER: Breaking my contract with MTV for the hip-hop sketch-comedy show Lyricist Lounge in order to get cast on Girlfriends. Also, leaving a speaking engagement to audition for Black-ish. I had to give the speaking engagement job their money back (which I needed).

Favorite Instagram accounts

FC: Do you have a work uniform?

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TER: Sweatsuits, a bold lip, and a hoop earring. We are in a pandemic so . . . ya know. I miss a tux jacket and a high-waisted trouser, but no need [for that] for Zoom meetings.

FC: What’s always in your bag?

TER: KN95 masks, hand sanitizer, my phone, AirPods, a Tatcha Serum Stick, Mountain Valley water, and Pattern hair ties and pins.

FC: Do you have a favorite object in your office?

TER: My crystals, pictures of me and my mom, and my Kayo O’Young pink vase.

FC: How do you exercise?

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TER: I have been doing the Tracy Anderson Method for almost 10 years, and gyrotonics has been at the core of my self-care for almost 25 years now.

FC: What TV show are you mid-binge on?

TER: Schitt’s Creek. It is hilarious and Catherine O’Hara is an absolute genius.

FC: Do you have a mantra?

TER: “May the space between where I am and where I want to go inspire me.”

FC: What is your go-to food for fast fuel?

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TER: Smoked turkey, peanut butter Larabars, raw almonds, dried figs, Brazil nuts.

FC: What do you send to congratulate someone?

TER: Flowers from Bia Blooms or Miho Kosuda, or wine from Helen’s Wines, always with a handwritten note.