Kenya Barris’ highly-acclaimed series Black-ish would be nothing without the masterful Tracee Ellis Ross portraying the show’s corny and brilliant matriarch, Rainbow Johnson. But Ross did not come into her role without contention. 

In a new interview on the L.A. Times podcast Can’t Stop Watching, the Golden Globe winner explained how she pushed back against Rainbow’s performance of “lady chores” throughout the series in an effort to shift the dynamic of how the audience views housework. 

“What I did speak up about from the beginning was, ‘Why am I carrying laundry?’ ‘Why am I the person in the kitchen cooking right now, when this has nothing to do with the scene?’ Even sometimes when it does have something to do with the scene,” she told the show. “And I started coining them as ‘lady chores.’ ‘Why am I doing the lady chores?’ ‘Can’t Anthony [Anderson] do the lady chore?’” 

Ross went on to explain how housework should not be gendered, contrary to the typical role of a “sitcom wife.”  

“I don’t believe they’re ‘lady chores.’ I believe they’re house chores. And I don’t believe that we should assume, because I believe every relationship is a negotiation between two people about what each of them feel comfortable doing, and I think the more that we portray that on television, the more that that becomes the reality out in the world, or matches the reality that the world actually is,” she added.  

Ross is currently nominated for an Emmy as Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for her role as Dr. Johnson. Elsewhere in the interview, Ross talked about her iconic role on Girlfriends, which is hitting Netflix next month. Listen to the full conversation below. 

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