ANGELICA ROSS | Transforming Life & Lives
by Aryah Lester
Angelica Ross spends most of her time these
days in Washington, D.C., working in an office
just down the hall from the head of one of the
largest LGBT organizations in the world.
Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin
is one of two presidents with offices on the fifth
floor. The other is Ross, the founding CEO of
TransTech Social Enterprises, based in Chicago,
and president of Miss Ross, Inc.
Ross, the 34-year-old entrepreneur, business
leader, military veteran, and transgender role
model, was not behind a desk as recently as
five years ago.
She was onstage, entertaining crowds as a
showgirl at Chicago’s Kit Kat Lounge and Supper
Club. And she was lip-synching. - TheAdvocate.com
We recently sat with Miss Ross for a one-on-one on what she
has been up to, where she comes from, and where she is
Where did you find your biggest inspiration as a youth?
Music was the first thing I could turn to for inspiration growing up.
Even before I got my first record player, or casio keyboard, I could
always hear the music in every moment. Even if I didn’t have the
lyrics, there was a melody and sometimes it was upbeat and
sometimes not, but there seemed to be a score to my life. So I
learned to play piano by ear, I joined every choir from church to
chorale, auditioned for every musical and every play, anything to
keep me from returning home to my reality at that time.
What spurns you onward on a regular basis?
I know that I have a mission. Period. A major part of that mission
is just to “never give up.” No matter what. I almost gave up.
I almost committed suicide when I was 19. I am humbled, honored, and convicted by the blessing of my survival, of what I have done with
the challenges in my life every since. So onward and upward as they say. I have a big mission to accomplish, and anyone watching or a
part of it knows that it has never been just about me. My buddhist practice, provides me with a model of practicing for oneself while
simultaneously practicing for others. This has informed how I approach my work with TransTech. I have used the space of technology
and creativity to help me reach my dreams and there are so many trans people who deserve to live their dreams too. I make it clear that I
can not do the dreaming for you, nor can I wave a magic wand and whisk you past all your own challenges and into the life of your
dreams, but what I can do is as I grow and reach my goals and dreams, I can inspire others who shared my same struggles know that
they can reach their goals too, and know that I, Angelica Ross, am somehow, somewhere providing space for trans people to thrive.
How has your life changed with your biggest accomplishments? For example: your recent Emmy nomination
Life has always been busy for me, so that hasn’t changed. What has changed though is I used to be very busy and very very broke. I
promised myself I would end that cycle. I mean it just doesn’t make any sense to be busy and broke, it just doesn’t add up. So I had to
choose at this time until my cup overfloweth and my lights constantly stay on, then I will look at doing something for free, but right now I
just can’t. I make my contributions to the community through my mission with TransTech.
Where do you see the transgender community in 5 years?
I see more trans people stepping up into leadership positions, in political office as well as blessing spiritual and religious spaces. I see
a greater acceptance of trans bodies in the future, and a healing of the dysphoria that many trans people experience at the root of their
own understanding. If there is one lesson I think will set the trans community free for the next 5 years and beyond, is that we are so much
stronger than the challenges we face. Somewhere deep down inside we must realize and actualize this and have the courage to defend
our right to exist and live full lives and dare to dream.
How is Miss Ross Inc. and Trans Tech Social changing the
We need to work with what we got right now. Shifting power also
means shifting money and resources into and within the trans
community. Our mission is not about a hand-out, but a hand up.
We use both for profit and nonprofit strategies to address issues
of economic disparity and unemployment that center the
individual as their own hero.
UNITY COALITION|COALICIÓN UNIDA & TRANS MIAMI JOIN
FORCES WITH TRANS TECH SOCIAL ENTERPRISES TO OPEN
FIRST HUB IN THE U.S. FOR LGBTQ TALENT
March 2017 - Miami, Florida… After months of exploring the
needs of the South Florida marginalized communities and how
best to serve & empower them, especially the transgender
community, Unity Coalition|Coalición Unida and Trans Miami,
under the guidance of Aryah Lester, has entered into an
agreement with Trans Tech Social Enterprises to open and
staff the first Hub for LGBT talent in the U.S.
An inclusive and empowering space for transgender, gender
nonconforming, and non-binary people, TransTech is an
incubator for LGBTQ Talent with a focus on economically
empowering the T, transgender people, in our community.
With a mission to empower, educate, and employ those facing
barriers in education and in the work place, as well as to reduce instances of discrimination, with a concentration on trans and gender
non-conforming individuals, TransTech is instilling the core values of Accountability, Ownership, Determination, Offerings, Invitations and
TransTech Founder & CEO Angelica Ross has made a career out of helping others navigate the challenges that come along with being a
member of more than one minority. Over the span of 10+ years Angelica built a creative design business that began in the margins of
society, outside the formal education system. Angelica is the founding CEO of TransTech Social Enterprises.
“At TransTech, individuals learn and work together to develop skills and values within marginalized LGBTQ communities. This
collaboration, the first of its kind in the U.S., could not be a better fit with the values and mission of both Unity Coalition|Coalición Unida
and Trans Miami. I am thrilled to have been hand-picked by one of my mentors, Angelica Ross, to lead this effort as the Miami
Coordinator for TransTech.” said Aryah Lester.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Keep your head up and trust your intuition, you are going to slay the house down boots girl TRUST! It’s not going to be easy, but you are
going to shock yourself and others on with what you will do with the challenges along your path.
What is currently in the works for you, personally and professionally, which you can share?
Since the beginning of this year I have been incredibly busy which has been a blessing. Later on this year in November we are launching
the inaugural TransTech Summit in Chicago. I am currently during a tour, “Miss Ross Live: Campus Talks” at college campuses across
the country. I also just joined the cast of a new series on TNT called “Claws” starring Niecy Nash and from Executive Producer
Rasheeda Jones and am currently filming in New Orleans now through June, but I’m also working on a handful of projects that I’m either
writing or producing or acting in as well, so things are very very busy. What most people don’t know is I also built several websites in the
past year alone for a small number of clients that have been with me for over 10 years. I am never not working. Hopefully that will change
soon and I’ll be able to experience more leisure time.
Who would you like to work with in the near future?
Ava DuVernay, Oprah, Shondha Rhimes, Kerry Washington, Viola Davis, Issa Rae and her show Insecure as well as anything else she’s
got cooking up, honey I have a list and trust me it goes on and on and on! I’d also LOVE to be on Being Mary Jane with Gabriel Union! I’d
like to work with black actors to help heal the black communities relationship with trans women as well as black bisexual, lesbian and
gay folks in our community. It’s time to show love to black trans women on the big and little screen.
I no longer let society determine my value or define my life or it’s direction. I
am humbled by the reality that my worth is contextualized by my environment.
Of what value am I to those around me and how can I make this place around
me a better place.
Describe your ideal date night for us!
An ideal date for me would be going on a hike in Los Angeles, at Griffith Park or playing tennis. Something physical and sweaty that
doesn’t involve sex right away. I like for a guy to show me he is interested in more than just my body. The more he can be creative with
that the better chances he has at me returning his phone call and text messages.
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