Tracee Ellis Ross took the stage at the 2020 People’s Choice Awards to accept the Fashion Icon Award in a stunning white cape and thigh-high leather boots, combo.
“Tracee, do you take fashion to be your lawfully wedded wife? I do, I do!” she joked. “I cannot thank you enough for validating my shopping habit.”
Ross, 48, went on to thank the magazine industry and the stylists she has worked with throughout her career, including Karla Welch, whom she called her “collaborator in rule-breaking.” She also tipped her hat to designers, saying, “Thank you for having me inhabit your sublime creations.”
Continuing, she thanked her father Robert Ellis Silberstein “for his impeccable style and for being my humor twin,” as well as “the icon herself,” her mother Diana Ross. “Not only for her great parenting … but also her example, her sense of style, her epic closet and her glamour that introduced me to the power of fashion.”
She recalled begging her mom as a teenager “for a seasonal shopping budget” — “spoiler alert — I did not get it” — and said she used to go on stage after the singer’s performances to collect beads that fell off her sparkly dresses “so that I could have pieces of the magic, seeds of the fashion dream that I was cultivating for myself.”
The actress also noted that growing up, her “love of vintage clothing” sustained her “on a budget.” “Second-hand clothing helped me understand that style has nothing to do with money,” she said. “It’s the way you put things together. Style is the how, not the what.”
“I wear my insides on the outside, and if featuring Black designers at the American Music Awards helps somehow see the power of Black artistry, or if joining the call to wear black at the Golden Globes led to solidarity with women saying time’s up on sexual harassment, then you heard me loud and clear,” she said. “If fashion is the thing that draws you in, then use it as a tool for transformation.”
“Use fashion as an entrance. Let your clothes be your superhero cape, allowing you to the best you you can be,” she urged. “Activate the clothes through your joy and commitment to the world that you want to see. It doesn’t matter if you wear black tie or a Black Lives Matter t-shirt, but suit up and show up, because our action creates our destiny, our joy creates space for our freedom. GA Senate.com, donate, get involved, stay engaged, people — we’ve got work to do. Thank you, I am a fashion icon!”
Watch Tracee’s acceptance speech below.