The black-ish starreceived the Fierce and Fearless award at the 9th annual Essence Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon in Beverly Hills on Thursday

By Mariah Haas
Updated February 27, 2016 12:20 AM
Credit: Jesse Grant/Getty

Although Tracee Ellis Ross lost her voice last Thursday – and as she puts it has “been working since Monday as a silent actress” – the Black-ish star was able to deliver a moving speech at an event in her honor.

“I am often afraid,” Ross said as she accepted the Fierce and Fearless award at the 9th annual Essence Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon in Beverly Hills on Thursday.

“I was terrified when I lost my voice, but I have come to understand and listen to the fear,” she added. “I walk towards it and I lean into it to find information – and things that it has to teach me.”

Except if “it says run – and then I run,” the actress admitted. “I run very fast and I cry a lot and I text and I email and all those kinds of things, but otherwise I pay attention and I learn.”

Ross, 43, went on to say that she is “no longer afraid of being afraid.”

“I have learned that I am okay. I am with me,” Ross said. She was joined by her brothers Evan Ross and Ross Naess, her sister Rhonda (who presented the award to Ross along with Zendaya) and her father Robert Ellis Silberstein at the luncheon.

“For all the women that are swimming upstream in our culture of expectation, inequality, sexism and racism – my hope is that we will gloriously allow ourselves to be ourselves and to become limitless,” added Ross, whose series Black-ish had a nuanced discussion about race relations in the United States during Wednesday’s episode.

“The picture is changing,” she continued. “The template is expanding because of us. We are in a time where our own freedom only needs a gentle touch to be awakened – where our joy, our own joy is already dancing through us. So look in the mirror, we are an inspiration. The joy and the freedom already exist within each of us.”

Added Ross: “I want us to know as women – our freedom to discover, accept and love who we are to feel empowered and courageous so that we can each build full and juicy lives for ourselves.”

“I don’t always feel fierce, but I do feel like a rock star being human,” said Ross before thanking Essence and wrapping up her speech.