As a kid, Tracee Ross, the second of singer Diana Ross's five children, used to vie for attention by clowning around. "Not comedian-funny like make a joke," she says, "but with my body language and how I said things." Now, after brief stints as a fashion editor (for New York magazine), a runway model and commercial actress (for Keds and Infiniti cars), Ross has hit the home screen as host of Lifetime's new pop-culture program of news and reviews, The Dish (airing Fridays, 7-7:30 p.m.). This year she appears on the big screen in two independent films—Far Harbor and Sue.
Growing up Ross: "Everybody knows her as Diana Ross, but to me she was Mom. I had breakfast and dinner with my mother, and I was woken up by her every morning for school."
Second opinion: "She would have so much energy," says Diana. "I would be, 'Tracee? Get the wiggle out.' That's what I called it, the wiggle. She was all over the place."
Vitals: She's the older of Diana's two girls by her first husband, Robert Silberstein, a real estate businessman who once worked for singer Chaka Khan. Raised in New York City; a 1994 degree in theater arts from Brown University; 5'8" tall.
Worst showbiz moment: Her voice cracked while singing in a high school talent show. "I started to cry onstage, and my friend had to come onstage and give me a hug. It was really bad."
Her comeback: Ross now warbles the 30-second Dish theme song at the start of each show.
Job interview: "I was looking for a person with style who knows about film and television," says Susie Arnett, vice president at Lifetime television. And Ross, she adds, "watches way too much television."
Digs: Lives solo in a downtown Manhattan, one-bedroom apartment. "I'm single," she says. "I'm really single."
Current fave CD: Fiona Apple's Tidal.
Acting limitations: "In all honesty, I don't think I would ever play a serial killer because I'm big on karma."