Tracee Ellis Ross’ Heartfelt Letter To TV Daughter Yara Shahidi Gave Us All Kinds Of Feels

“Your presence on television symbolizes so much for young girls.”

If you think you already love Tracee Ellis Ross and Yara Shahidi, get ready to have that adoration amplified times infinity. Ross penned an open letter to Shahidi for Essence that encapsulates their mother-daughter dynamic from Black-ish and their close sisterhood IRL while looking ahead to the future.

Ross opens by telling Shahidi it is "a gift to be able to witness you in this moment of tremendous growth and grace" before delving into some of the sweet moments the two have shared while working together on their ABC sitcom. Summing up their "sacred" relationship, Ross calls them "kindred souls from different eras" before noting that the biggest similarity between the two of them is that they're "both of mixed heritage" — something they both "honor and celebrate."


"You can't help but to grow up, but you are also waking up and that is a choice that you are boldly making," Ross continues. "You are interested in and focused on change, drawn to thought leaders, hungry for knowledge and willing to use your platform to inform racial justice and gender parity."

Ross praised Shahidi for standing up for what matters, such as when the 17-year-old speaks openly about identifying as both a Black and an Iranian woman. On the other hand, Ross also noted that Shahidi is growing up in a world that is "a bit more accepting of strong, joyous, smart Black Girls" and at a time "where there is a celebration of Black Girl Magic" — though calling attention to the fact that there are still "challenging realities" facing women of color.

"As I know you know, representation matters. Your presence on television symbolizes so much for young girls," Ross added. "And your presence off screen informs so much more. I see you as a young woman of substance who is interested in expanding narratives and learning how to create change.

Ross, who won a Golden Globe earlier this year for portraying Dr. Rainbow Johnson on Black-ish, certainly knows the importance of being a minority on television. When accepting the trophy, music legend Diana Ross' daughter addressed underrepresented people — specifically women of color — and assured them that "I see you."

"May you find acceptance, safety, joy and beauty in your own body. May you stay curious and teachable," the letter concludes. "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."

Head over to Essence to read the full open letter.

Cover image: Tracee Ellis Ross / Instagram | Yara Shahidi / Instagram

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