Tracee Ellis Ross is executive producing a new podcast she says will celebrate true-life stories of heroism, inclusion and community — while dispelling misconceptions about the American identity.
The 10-episode “I Am America” is slated to be released in early 2022. It’s being produced with Dear Media, the podcast network founded in 2018 with a focus on women in entertainment.
Ross, the actor, producer and entrepreneur who stars in ABC’s “Black-ish,” said the idea behind the podcast series — to “showcase stories about the hidden angels of America” — has been a passion project for her for years.
The focus for “I Am America” will be on human connections that “transcend all the divisions we have in this country,” Ross said. “Particularly after the last four years, this kind of storytelling is more important than ever… In a world inundated by division and trauma, I find strength and hope in the fortitude, kindness and generosity of fellow humans.”
The first season of 10 episodes will be released weekly, showcasing an “extraordinary person of color and how they have impacted their community,” according to the producers. “This is really to pull back the curtain of unexplored stories of everyday people and allow us to reframe and reimagine the beautiful promise of this country and who we are as Americans,” Ross said.
Ross and the other producers are in the midst of selecting a host for “I Am America” and then finding the subjects to profile in the series. As for why she isn’t narrating the podcast, Ross said, “This show is not about necessarily who is telling the story,” adding, “It wasn’t like I was longing to do a podcast to hear my own voice.”
Added Ross, “Partnering with Dear Media was a no-brainer. We share the belief that with heart and justice as anchors of the storytelling, we can break through the noise and heal.”
Other notable execs attached to “I Am America” are Adriana Ambriz of Ross’s Joy Mill Entertainment production company, E. Brian Dobbins of Artists First, Jocelyn Falk of Dear Media, and Brett Bouttier and Jeff Berman of Magnet Companies. (Last year, West Hollywood-based Dear Media announced $8 million in Series A funding from Magnet Companies.)
“We started with a mission to empower female voices too often ignored by traditional media,” Dear Media CEO Michael Bosstick said in a statement. “We have become a home to so many extraordinary women and with ‘I Am America,’ we are continuing to push that even further.”
Ross has received numerous individual acting awards including a 2017 Golden Globe as well as nine NAACP Image Awards. She also garnered four Primetime Emmy Awards nominations and two Critics’ Choice Awards nominations.
As a co-founding signatory of the Time’s Up movement, Ross is actively involved in promoting the goals of creating safety and equality in the workplace. In November 2017, she gave a speech that went viral about dismantling expectations and claiming your own life at Glamour’s Women of the Year Summit. In April 2018, Ross opened at the TED Conference, the first Black woman to do so, with a compelling speech about the wisdom of women’s fury.
In addition, Ross is founder and CEO of Pattern, the haircare brand launched in 2019 for the “curly, coily and tight-textured masses.” Pattern is committed to supporting organizations and programs that empower women and people of color, and the brand has allowed Ross to advocate for diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). Ross is now Ulta Beauty’s diversity and inclusion adviser.
Dear Media now has launched or greenlit 75 podcasts, and the company plans to end this year with more than 100. Its shows include “Being Bumo” with Chriselle Lim, “The Skinny Confidential Him & Her” with Michael and Lauryn Bosstick, “Dear Gabby” with Gabby Bernstein, “Raising Good Humans” with Dr. Aliza, “With Whit” with Whitney Port, “Because Life” with Sydel Curry-Lee and “Life With Marianna” with Marianna Hewitt.