Tracee Ellis Ross Details Her Last Day on the 'Black-ish' Set: 'I Gave Myself Permission to Cry'

"I was like, 'I literally can't get through the rehearsal,' " Tracee Ellis Ross tells PEOPLE of her last day on the set of Black-ish

With the Black-ish series finale around the corner, Tracee Ellis Ross is taking a trip down memory lane.

In this week's issue of PEOPLE, the actress, 49, reflects on the past eight seasons playing Rainbow "Bow" Johnson on the ABC comedy — and the emotional last day spent on set.

"I leave this show with so much joy and pride, and I think what we created changed my life in that we really changed the landscape of modern prime time television," says Ross. "I do think we opened a pathway for television that is more reflective of who we are as human beings. And so it was a real honor and life-changing to be able to work on another show that I feel so incredibly proud of."

ABC/Kwaku Alston

"My favorite thing in the world is the fact that parents across the board came up to me to say, 'My 12-year-old will not do anything with me, but just looks at their phone when we're together. But we watch Black-ish together, and it gives me 22 minutes to sit with my kid and laugh and talk.' And then they usually say, 'I get about 10 to 12 minutes after the show when we get to talk.' To me, that's the best part," she shares.

"It's one of the things I think our show has done from the beginning, so incredibly well. We don't offer answers to all of these very sticky and sharp subjects, but we really pose all of the questions," Ross adds.

While it's been a joyful ride thus far, for Ross — who stars alongside Anthony Anderson, Yara Shahidi, Marsai Martin, Miles Brown, Marcus Scribner, Laurence Fishburne and Jenifer Lewis in the long-running series — the last day on set was full of emotions.

"I think there's something really special when you know something's coming to an end that you really get to kind of revel in all that you love about something," says Ross. "And I was able to talk to everybody, really specifically, and hear from so many people what exactly their takeaway was and why this show was impactful personally in their lives."


"The last week was filled with a lot of that," the star adds. "I hugged the kids in a way that was annoying, I'm sure. And I gave myself permission to cry as much as I needed to, to the point that Anthony was like, 'Seriously, are you crying again?' "

"Then the last moment, they saved a particular scene in the episode for us to shoot last that was just me and Anthony," she concludes. "I was like, 'I literally can't get through the rehearsal.' And thank God I had kind of gotten the tears out so that you can hear my lines. And we only did it, we did it once for wide and then we came in on closeups twice. It's very emotional. It's a long time to be working with people and doing something you love and it's great."

tracee ellis ross

The acclaimed sitcom, which kicked off its eighth and final season on Jan. 4, will officially conclude when the series finale will air on April 19, ABC announced earlier this week.

Recently, the Black-ish cast spoke about the series ending at its PaleyFest panel in Los Angeles.

"I want to go on. I think we have more stories to tell," said Anderson, 51. "I think the audience wants to see more. But all good things must come to an end."

"I was honored to be on network television doing a show about Juneteenth, doing a show about police brutality, doing a comedy about the N-word," Lewis, 65, said as Martin, 17, added, "Going onto that set, it just felt so warm and so welcoming. And throughout the years, we instantly just grew a big family and it just felt home."

RELATED VIDEO: Anthony Anderson Says He Feels Like 'the Black Susan Lucci' After Earning His 7th Acting Emmy Nomination for 'Black-ish'

Even with Black-ish coming to an end, its televised universe lives on.

Grown-ish, featuring Zoey (Shahidi) in her college years, was recently renewed for a fifth season. But Mixed-ish — a spinoff about Bow's family, starring Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Tika Sumpterwas canceled in May 2021 after two seasons.

Black-ish will air its series finale on April 19 at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.

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