Have you been following along on my #GoodDinoEvent and #ABCTVEvent press trip coverage so far? If not, you should take a minute to catch up. It was a whirlwind few days and I’m excited to be able to share it with you.
I don’t know about your family but we love our TV shows. It might partly be because we’re in Wisconsin and when the weather gets cold, we hibernate in doors. 😉 Either way, it’s just something that we enjoy as a family. We all have our favorite TV shows that we like to watch together.
We got to preview the black-ish episode “Man at Work” which airs tonight. Oh my goodness, so hilarious!! You must tune in. Plus it’s the first episode with Wanda Sykes!
Dre’s childhood friend comes to stay at the house, but Bow suspects him of taking advantage of Dre’s generosity. Meanwhile, Mr. Stevens’ ex-wife gains control of half of the company and begins to question Charlie’s work ethic.
Now being a big ABC fan, it is really exciting to be able to get a behind the scenes look on the set. We were able to not only get a tour of the set of black-ish but our tour guide was none other than Tracee Ellis Ross! How amazing is that?! Next week I’ll be giving you a look at the set (through my eyes).
Tracee was so amazing to meet in person and I appreciated her taking time out of her day to speak to us and show us around. To get a sneak peek from Tracee’s viewpoint, was awesome! We were able to ask Tracee questions as we toured the set. Keep reading below for highlights.
I could not believe how big the house on set was. It seriously was bigger than my house.
Tracee: The nice part about the big rooms is it’s easy for shooting but, on Girlfriends it was smaller but they were all open. There was always a wall missing because we shot on multi-cam, which means you shoot more for an audience. So these walls, they all close … because they mostly shoot from this side for this room or through the door.
But it does make it easy. It allows us to do less set ups, which takes less time, which is fantastic ’cause people don’t realize … It’s a long week, which is kind of amazing to think of how long it takes and how many angles and all that different stuff, how long it takes to shoot 22 minutes.
I could definitely see how having a bigger set was nice. There’s a lot of cameras and crew to fit in. Then I’m sure it doesn’t feel as big.
I always love hearing what it’s like to work with the kids as well as the dynamics and relationships between the cast. Tracee gave her fellow cast members high praises. She also gave us an idea of the different work requirements for the kids.
Tracee: I don’t know legally what the law is, but there are real hard outs and there’s blocks of school that they have to get in throughout the day. There’s a big calendar. Donna, our Base Camp A.D., she literally marks out the blocks of time that they do for school. They have hard outs on lunch. Anthony and I can do grace, we can push lunch later. The kids can’t.
On Fridays they can shoot till 10 o’clock, but only on Fridays. So you’ll bring them in, it still means that their hours are the same, but you can start later because they can go later. So if there’s night scenes, you can only have them till 10 o’clock. There’s a lot of protection and the younger kids are 10 and 11, and then Marcus and Yara are both 15. I think when they turn 16, there’s an extra hour we get, but they’re really protective and they all have great teachers and they have a great school in a trailer that is half for the younger kids, half for the older kids.
It’s kind of amazing, and their teachers are fantastic. It’s really kind of special.
Honestly, talent aside, yes they’re talented, but they’re wonderful people. It’s really joyful, I have to say. They’ve been on the planet for less time than us and they’re not jaded. They just have a pure joy that you can’t … when you see Miles and Marsai in the morning, they run towards you for a huddle up.
It’s, it’s magic. Usually between takes, there’s a lot of giggling and laughing and videos being taken and pictures and everything, so I really enjoy it. They’re extremely talented. For example Miles, who loves sports. He loves basketball. He loves LeBron James. They’re kids, so you say something like focus, like get focused.
And I realized, I was going to bed one night and I was like maybe he doesn’t know what that means. I need to explain that a little bit more because maybe that’s why everybody keeps saying focus, but maybe he has no idea what that means. So I thought about it, a really good metaphor that I was really happy about, because he loves basketball, it’s like who has the ball. So now that’s what I say, who has the ball, but even if he doesn’t have the ball, even if you’re not the one with the ball, who has the ball? So that you stay in the scene and you stay in the game, right?
So I was really proud of myself. [LAUGHING.] They’re so young and they have such a grown-up job on their shoulders and they’re kids. They’re great kids, so it’s really fun.
We also had the privilege to meet Marcus Scribner who voices Buck in The Good Dinosaur and also plays Tracee’s son in black-ish. Tracee had great things to say about Marcus and talked a bit more about the connection that the cast has.
Tracee: He’s so talented. I think he’s a little comic genius. No, I do. I think they’re wonderful, so we’re really blessed, and there’s such a natural connection between all of us that I’m amazed, it just kind of was there genuinely from the beginning, but it’s only growing more interesting. We’ve been working together now, a year-and-a-half, so we really know each other and there’s a sense of safety and connection, so it’s really special.
black-ish definitely brings up a lot of cultural conversations and even pushes boundaries, if you will. One of the questions posed to Tracee was as a biracial woman, how important is it to her to get this story out there.
Tracee: Honestly, they have not explored that story much on the show, and I will say that I have been very clear, I’m not playing myself. I think it’s really exciting that she’s mixed. I’ve actually never got to play a mixed character on TV. I usually play a black girl. But I think it’s exciting that she is mixed but the truth is we haven’t really been exploring that story line, and I have a real clarity that this is a role that I’m playing.
So although I try and keep it honest if I don’t believe that sort of that’s the trajectory of what my character would do from truth, that wouldn’t feel honest, but in terms of what my character’s doing, I leave that to the writers and it’s kind of like magic when you get the new script because you’re this is crazy or hilarious, but it’s not me. It’s not my story. So Bow it’s not a matched experience for what my experience has been. I’m not married. I don’t have four kids.
Next we chatted a bit about wardrobe. I thought it was awesome when Tracee talks about not wearing makeup in bed. Speaking of bed. When we got to her bedroom on set, she showed us a sign that was laying on the bed. Basically saying, do not use the bed. She says that her and Andre don’t really pay attention to those signs! 😉
Now back to chatting about wardrobe!
Tracee: I do have input, but we have a wonderful costume department, led by Michelle Cole, who’s a very incredible, and been doing this forever. I do have input but they do the shopping. I don’t really specify any designers.
My style is a little bit different than Bow, which I kind of love. Bow doesn’t wear heels ever. I wear heels all the time. Bow rarely wears a heel, which I find liberatingly wonderful. It’s so great to not put heels on, one of the things that was very clear to me that I really wanted to bring to Bow is that she dressed hair and makeup wise really like a woman that had authentically. I don’t know a mother of four with a career and a husband and all of that that can spend a ton of time putting together looks and doing the whole thing.
So I don’t wear mascara, I don’t wear eye shadow and stuff like that. It’s sort of like the mascara and the lipstick is kind of it, which I feel is sort of her sort of regimen and routine. There’s usually not a lot of jewelry. I feel like the way she pulls from her closet is the way people pull from their closet, so it’s usually a dress and sneakers or jeans and a cute top. So it’s usually not styled. I wear a lot more stuff than she does, but I like to keep it really authentic.
I usually, if we can, because of the shooting schedule, I usually remove my mascara and most of my makeup when I’m in the bed. Sometimes, we can’t because we’re about to go back to another scene where I need to have my mascara on, but mostly I try to be authentic and not have makeup on when I’m in the bed. It’s a pet peeve of mine when you see an actress wake up with lip gloss. I’m like – and somehow, it’s not on the pillow. Interesting. And so this is hilarious. It’s hilarious. It’s so funny.
I agree, Tracee!! I’ve always thought that too. Like, seriously, they expect us to think that she can look that good first thing in the morning?!
To wrap up the set of the tour and the Q&A, Tracee answers what her favorite episodes are.
Tracee: I really liked the episode – Church. In terms of funny, I just thought everybody was so funny. I thought the writing was great. I thought the direction was great. I felt like, even just the little moments between the kids and that, just overall it was a great one. I loved the N-word episode just because I thought that writing-wise, that subject was handled pitch perfect in my opinion. And that was such a difficult, how do you make that funny, and somehow they did, and yet we weren’t laughing at the word.
And I thought that was just so beautifully handled and the fact that it was introduced through Jack was so interesting and such an interesting way to flip that on its head where even for my character, which I liked, she had such a stanch clear no hate speech whatsoever, but when it was her kid, she got tangled, and I just thought that was so real. Like she all of a sudden was a little bit on the fence like maybe it’s okay.
So I thought that was really well handled and then, I had one other I was going to say. Oh, I thought that the kids were magical in the Halloween episode. I did not see them shoot that. I don’t know if you saw that episode, but when they were attacking the kids and it went into slow motion, I just was crying with laughter. I couldn’t believe how funny that was. It was so funny. And then, little Kayla, God, I was like what’s happening? It was so funny to me. So I would say those three right now. Those are all from this season.
I love this show. I mean, I laugh when I watch it. I love that you can watch it with your kids and it’s really fun. The stuff in the office kills me. It’s just great. Yeah. I’m really, I feel really proud to be on the show.
Such a fun day. Tracee was wonderful, the set was awesome and it was so fun to get this inside/behind the scenes look at black-ish! Be on the look out next week for pictures of the set!