When Tracee Ellis Ross woke up the week of February 15 with no voice, she was "terrified."
"Not having a voice has been a very spiritual experience for me," she said while accepting the Fierce and Fearless Award during Essence's 9th annual Black Women in Hollywood Awards Luncheon.
"Things became clearer to me than they have ever before," she added, holding back tears and admitting she almost had to miss the awards luncheon. What she discovered, she said, was that, "I am not the sound of my voice. I am me and I can be the same me without a voice … I actually believe that the goal is not always grace and dignity, but self-hood. We should all do what we can in our daily lives to remember that we are glorious and powerful and more than enough."
As a result of Tracee's vocal strain, production on "black-ish" had to be pushed back. On the day of Essence's luncheon, the actress and daughter of Diana Ross was on set shooting her hit show before rushing over to the Beverly Wilshire hotel to accept her award.
She admitted to changing into her gold jumpsuit in the car on the way to the event. "I'm unclear if what I'm wearing is see-through or not," she joked, lightening the mood. "If it is, sorry. I work out a lot. I'm 43 and I did change my undies. Sorry. That was inappropriate."
Tracee was honored the day after the pivotal episode of ABC's "black-ish" titled "Hope" aired. The episode tackled the perception of a case of alleged police brutality and how to discuss the topic with children.
It was an impactful episode to air, especially during a racially charged Oscars week -- the award show has been tagged #OscarsSoWhite due to the lack of diversity amongst the nominees -- and a week following the announcement of Channing Dungey as the president of ABC, making her the first African-American to head a broadcast network.
Oprah took the stage early in the afternoon to welcome everyone saying, "Let's bask in each other's achievements." She's partnered with Essence to air the luncheon during a special on her Own Network on Feb. 27.
Entertainment attorney Nina Shaw, who represents Lupita Nyong'o, Laurence Fishburne and Nick Cannon, to name a few, was also honored at the luncheon with the Power Award.
Debbie Allen also received recognition. "Debbie is like a force of nature, and I mean that literally," said a noticeably thinner Shonda Rhimes as she presented Debbie with her Legend Award.
Other stars in attendance were this year's Oscar host Chris Rock, Nick Cannon, Zandaya, Thandie Newton, Kelly Rowland, Keke Palmer, Evan Ross, Tia Mowry, Nate Parker, Meagan Good and more. Soul singer Leon Bridges performed.