Tracee Ellis Ross' mom, Diana Ross, fostered tight bonds between her children
Tracee Ellis Ross has always had a close relationship with her four siblings: Rhonda, Chudney, Ross and Evan.
Tracee's mother, music legend Diana Ross, encouraged her children to lean on each other, though she always made sure to prioritize her kids amid her busy career.
"That there was a space made in the world that she sort of cleaned off," she continued, referencing Diana. "Her intention was always for us to live our lives from her shoulders. My mom’s career was never more important than her children."
When Tracee was born in 1972, her mother had already welcomed her eldest daughter Rhonda the year prior. At the time, Diana was married to her first husband, music executive Robert Ellis Silberstein, although Motown legend Berry Gordy was Rhonda’s biological father. Silberstein stepped in to raise Rhonda as his own, and after Tracee was born, Diana and Silberstein had one more child — Tracee's younger sister, Chudney.
After Diana and Silberstein divorced in 1977, she married Norwegian businessman Arne Naess Jr. The couple welcomed two kids less than a year apart, making Tracee a big sister to brothers Ross and Evan. Tracee also gained three step-siblings: Naess’ children from a previous relationship, Katinka, Christoffer and Leona.
The Candy Cane Lane actress credits her famous mother with fostering a tight-knight bond between her and her brothers and sisters, which is still apparent to this day. The siblings often spend holidays together, and Tracee has thrived in her role as an aunt to her nieces and nephews.
Here’s everything to know about Tracee Ellis Ross’ siblings and their relationship with their actress sister.
Tracee has two sisters and two brothers
While all of Tracee’s siblings share Diana as their mother, they have different fathers. Tracee’s eldest sister, Rhonda, was born on Aug. 14, 1971, following Diana’s relationship with Gordy. By the time Rhonda was born, Diana and Gordy went their separate ways, and her mother married Silberstein.
Despite Rhonda being Gordy’s daughter, Silberstein raised her as his own. Diana and Silberstein welcomed two children together — Tracee on Oct. 29, 1972, and Chudney on Nov. 4, 1975.
After Diana’s split from Silberstein in 1977, a decade passed before she wed again. She tied the knot with Norwegian businessman Naess in 1986, and the pair became parents shortly after. Their son Ross was born on Oct. 7, 1987, and Evan arrived less than a year later on Aug. 26, 1988.
Diana and Naess ultimately divorced in 2000.
She also has three step-siblings from her mother's previous marriage
When Diana married Naess, she became stepmom to his three children from a previous relationship — Katinka, Christoffer and Leona.
Although Diana and Naess eventually divorced, Tracee is still close with her step-siblings. In 2022, she shared a TikTok in honor of National Sisters Day, which included photos of Katinka and Leona as well as Rhonda and Chudney, calling the group of women her “first best friends.”
Rhonda found out about her biological father when she was almost 13
Although Silberstein raised Rhonda, Gordy is her biological father. As a preteen, she says she started having questions about her family after she realized she didn’t look much like Silberstein. Up until that point, Rhonda had only considered Gordy a “friend of the family” and her mother’s mentor.
“I had started to ask my mother some questions about, ‘Why am I not growing?’ because Bob, who raised me, is 6 foot something, and Berry is 5’7,” she shared in an interview with Fuse TV. “So, I was wondering why I wasn’t getting taller. I just had preteen questions about myself and my relationship to the world and that sort of thing.”
Rhonda revealed that Diana eventually sat her down and told her the truth. Since Gordy had already been a part of her life and someone she considered an uncle, it came as a relief to discover who she was.
“I went to Barry, and we restarted a different kind of relationship, and it was wonderful because all of these things I knew about him, sort of, in the third person in some ways, he was able to talk to me about one to one. We figured it out," she said. “We love each other, and we’ve always loved each other."
Tracee and her siblings were raised in New York and Connecticut
While Rhonda, Tracee and Chudney were born in Los Angeles, most of their childhood was spent in New York City. Amid their mother’s split with Silberstein, Diana chose to relocate to the East Coast — and after officially filing for divorce, her children joined her there.
While Diana shared in Secrets of a Sparrow that it was a tumultuous time for her, her children helped her decide to stay in New York. The "Chain Reaction" vocalist was excited to see her kids making "incredible progress" at their new school.
“I think it was due to the fact that they were feeling more secure and had more of me than they had had in California." she wrote. "That was important for them and for me, too. In truth, we all needed each other."
Diana also attributed their "very small" Manhattan apartment to helping them create a closer "bond" with one another. "They always knew where I was, and they always knew that when they came home from school, I would be there for them,” she added.
After living in New York for a short time, Diana concluded it was a “frightening” place to raise a family. She began searching for her dream home in a suburb just outside the city, eventually finding a small farm she loved in Greenwich, Connecticut. The family once again relocated, and the farm would be where she raised the rest of her growing family.
Diana tried to give her children a normal upbringing
Despite her fame, Diana wanted her children to have as normal of an upbringing as possible. Instead of hiring nannies to raise her five kids, Rhonda says her mother was involved in their lives.
“She’d do a gig in Atlantic City and helicopter back and forth to be there in the mornings to get us off to school,” she told the New York Post in 2015. “My grandmother was around till I was 13, so we had that support, but my mother didn’t work on Christmas, New Year’s or any of our birthdays.”
Tracee has echoed similar sentiments about her childhood, explaining that her mother instilled in her siblings that they had to work for the things they wanted.
“My mom always joked: ‘I’m not leaving you guys any of this money. I made this money for me! I’ll make sure there’s a roof over your head. You can have health insurance and food. But other than that ... ’ ” Tracee shared with The Guardian in 2020.
The Candy Cane Land star revealed she worked as a salesperson at Ralph Lauren in high school. "There was a commitment on her part to a normalcy that I have taken into my adult life,” she added.
Rhonda and Evan are also entertainers
Like Tracee, both Rhonda and Evan have pursued careers in the entertainment industry. Rhonda started as a teenager in the '80s, first appearing in The Last Dragon. She also starred in several other films and TV shows, including the soap opera Another World — for which she was nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award in 1998.
Rhonda then followed in her mother’s footsteps as a talented singer and songwriter, using her music to question the “constructions of race, gender, sexuality and spirituality,” per a bio. In 2004, she released a live album with her husband, pianist Rodney Kendrick and in 2016, she unveiled her debut studio album, In Case You Didn't Know.
Apart from collaborating with Diana on the song “All Is Well,” she was tapped as an opening act for her on tour. Speaking with the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Rhonda said she was "very moved" by her mom's request because it meant that "she respects [my skills] and she feels that it's a good companion to what she is doing and I agree.”
Evan has also pursued his own music career, releasing several solo singles throughout the years as well as a collaborative 2018 EP with his wife Ashlee Simpson under the duo name Ashlee + Evan. He has also succeeded as an actor with credits in shows and movies, including ATL, Girlfriends, The CW’s 90210, The Hunger Games and The United States vs. Billie Holiday.
Chudney owns a bookstore in California
While her siblings have launched careers in the entertainment industry, Chudney has forged her own path. After graduating from Georgetown University in 1997, she became an elementary school teacher as a part of AmeriCorps’ Teach For America program, per her LinkedIn. Chudney worked as an educator for three in Washington D.C. and L.A. before retiring to pursue writing.
Around this time, she also got the chance to model on runways in L.A. and N.Y.C., and although she didn't have significant success, she told Gazette Du Bon Ton, "It gave me the opportunity to find confidence in my beauty, to walk a little taller and strut more gracefully."
After predicting that her life "would steer back to working with children," she opened Books and Cookies in 2011, a kids' book store in L.A., to share a love of reading with children and their families.
While the Books and Cookies storefront in Santa Monica, California, has since closed, the business continues to operate online. Chudney also published her own children’s book titled Lone Bean in 2012.
Chudney is now also the chief kid officer at The Jane Club, a coworking space that caters to women and children. There, she has helped create a “space for children to learn, play, and grow alongside their working mothers," per the Books and Cookies website.
Ross and Evan own restaurants around Los Angeles
Tracee’s brothers Ross and Evan have partnered up on several occasions to open restaurants in Los Angeles. The duo, who are also co-owners of Warwick nightclub, most recently helped open The Hideaway in Beverly Hills.
Evan also recently became involved with a second restaurant, Leona’s Sushi House, when his wife introduced him to restaurateur Frank Leon.
“I don’t know if I would call myself a restaurateur or even if I am inspired to become one. I love being around people in a social environment. Even when I was young, I loved getting dressed up and going out, especially to dinner,” Evan told Food & Beverage Magazine. “I embrace the energy, and when I was young, I got involved with clubs [Warwick]. I am enjoying being a part of these two restaurants.”
In addition to co-owning restaurants, Ross is also an artist, and occasionally posts photos of his work on Instagram.
Diana inspired all of her children to be individuals
Although their mom, Diana, is a celebrated singer and Oscar-nominated actress, Tracee and her siblings say that they felt that she encouraged them to be individuals. The "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" artist always pushed them to pursue their goals and aspirations outside her spotlight.
“My mom made it very easy for us to express ourselves,” Evan shared on the Not So Hollywood podcast in 2023. “There was no bad ideas. She wanted us to be creative and always gave us that confidence.”
Tracee is an aunt to her siblings' children
Tracee does not have children of her own, but she's a proud aunt to her four siblings' kids.
Rhonda, who married her husband Kendrick in 1996, is the mom of a son named Raif-Henok Emmanuel. Meanwhile, Chudney and her husband Joshua Faulkner have two daughters — Callaway Lane and Everlee Ernestine.
Tracee’s brothers also have children. Ross and his wife Kimberly are parents to Leif and Indigo, while Evan and Simpson have a daughter named Jagger Snow and a son named Ziggy Blu. Evan is also stepdad to Simpson’s son Bronx Mowgli Wentz, whom she shares with ex-husband Pete Wentz.
“I love being an aunt. I am an aunt to my nieces and nephews," Tracee said on NPR’s It’s Been A Minute. "It is a role that I love that I just cherish, that allows for deep connection and also a real sort of playfulness."
The actress spoke to PEOPLE in November 2023 about celebrating the holidays with her nieces and nephews.
"But gift-giving, I feel like the adults have just become chopped liver. It's like, ‘Come on, it's too many of us,’ ” she added of exchanging presents with her siblings.
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