Sunday’s American Music Awards will be a family affair, with Tracee Ellis Ross hosting and mom Diana Ross doing double duty as a performer and the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award.
“She’s a bit of an international treasure in my opinion,” the black-ish star, 45, tells PEOPLE. “I’m excited that a younger generation gets to witness that, even just through the television screen. Also I think it’s a really extraordinary thing to honor somebody who’s had such an everlasting career, whose music has touched lives in such a poignant and special way. Music reaches into your heart, and my mom’s voice has been a part of people’s lives for a long time.”
Ross plans to honor her mother, a 12-time Grammy nominee, in a personal way.
“I love clothes,” says the actress, who recently released a women’s clothing line with JC Penney. “I’m a style girl, so there will be a couple nods to my mother and her extraordinary fashion.”
Aside from the “I’m Coming Out” singer, Ross looks forward to seeing Pink, who will take the stage in addition to Christina Aguilera, Kelly Clarkson, Nick Jonas and more at the awards show. “I’m obsessed with Pink,” Ross gushes. “I think she is extraordinary and she’s got some performances and a couple things I know about that I’m really excited about.”
The Los Angeles native also recognizes that some viewers will expect her to address current events topics such as the numerous sexual harassment and misconduct accusations that have been made against powerful men, as well as gun control in the wake of the Las Vegas tragedy. But whether she plans to comment on those issues will be a ggame-timedecision.
“I think I will follow my heart around what feels appropriate in the moment,” Ross says. “There is a full show and a lot of things are being addressed in other ways. But as a human being, that is clearly an area I have a lot of feelings about. If there’s a way that I feel it’s appropriate to address any or all of those issues, I will. And if not, you guys can go to my Instagram feed, because we know I’m vocal there.”
The single star adds that the range of accusations that’ve come out against Hollywood heavy hitters recently aren’t specific to her industry.
“The Hollywood stories are louder in this moment but this is not a Hollywood story,” asserts Ross. “It’s not a Hollywood scandal. It’s actually a revelation of a reality, and I think that’s really what’s important about what’s happening right now.”
As someone who’s been in the business for over two decades, Ross says that while she’s surprised by the inappropriate behaviors that’ve come to light over the recent weeks, she’s more so appalled.
“Had I known some of those things, I hope I would’ve been a person who spoke up way longer than it had to take,” the Girlfriends alum says. “I would hope that I would not have ben a bystander who didn’t know what to do; that I would push through the fear and attempted to help.”
She continues, “Right now the curtains need to be pulled so that we can actually see what’s here and there’s not a shred of secrecy around this. From there, there’s going to be a lot of learning for people to do and figure out why this behavior is so persistent, so that people can actually not be participating in that kind of abuse of power and privilege.”
The American Music Aawards air Sunday at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.
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