Sunday, February 17, 2008

Article: Tracee Ellis Ross as 'Girlfriends' episode director

The New York Daily News had this article about Tracee Ellis Ross' directorial debut on Girlfriends this past Monday at 9 for the episode "What's Black-A-Lackin?"

Playing Joan Carol Clayton on "Girlfriends" is old hat for Tracee Ellis Ross at this point, but directing an episode of the long-running CW sitcom is a whole new challenge for the actress.
"It's something I've always wanted to do," Ross told the Daily News. "And the further I got into the show, years down the line, I just started to realize that I really had an interest in being involved in a different point of view of how you tell the story - not just as an actress."
"Girlfriends" is currently in its eighth season. The show, also starring Golden Brooks and Persia White, explores all manner of modern-day issues that women face, in relationships, with family and at work.
Though it is currently the longest-running live-action comedy on TV, executive producer Mara Brock Akil and White have voiced their disappointment at the fact that the media hasn't truly embraced the show, pointing a finger at race and gender.
Ross, however, chooses to focus on the positive.
"I don't know what the reasons are for not having this or that, but what I can say is that the show has gotten a chance to be on the air for eight years, with a very loyal and a growing audience," said Ross. "I can't complain. It's given me an extraordinary life and I really think it has done an extraordinary job of giving women a new face. Not just black women, but women in general, that we can be these multifaceted leads of television shows with enough stories to last eight years."
To prepare for her directorial debut, airing tonight at 9, Ross says she spent a lot of time shadowing other directors and setting up shots. And when it came down to the actual task, she was surprised at how much she already knew.
"I took to it like a duck to water," Ross said. "Although I was clearly, and am clearly, a beginner, I knew more than I thought I would know. And working with my cast members wasn't a challenge at all. I think we had a really fun time."
There was one issue, though. Ross says she usually has no problem with her lines, but when she tried to direct and act at the same time, her memorization skills went out the window.
"I couldn't remember anything because I was so busy thinking about the scene in general," said Ross. "I thought it was going to be challenging because you can't see yourself [when you're directing yourself as an actress], but it's having to split your focus in so many different places. To jump back and forth between the two is almost impossible."


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