From Hollywood With Love For The Gillum Campaign: Lee Daniels And Tracee Ellis Ross

Written by Anita Sanikop and Dana Sanchez


Oscar-nominated director Lee Daniels and “Blackish” star Tracee Ellis Ross hit the campaign trail on the weekend in Miami, supporting Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum ahead of Florida’s kickoff for early voting today, Oct. 22.

The entertainer-activists joined R. Jai Gillum, Andrew’s wife, to speak on Saturday at a North Miami Beach office opening, and at a community forum on criminal justice reform at Miami’s Dr. Dorothy Bendross-Mindingall Social and Economic Institute.

Florida voters will decide on Nov. 6 whether to pass a constitutional amendment automatically restoring voting rights for most ex-felons.

About 1.5 million felons have permanently lost the right to vote in the “Sunshine State”. More than 20 percent of otherwise eligible Black voters from Florida cannot cast a ballot. The state is home to about a quarter of all disenfranchised U.S. voters.

Ross said she wasn’t always politically aware.  “I felt it was outside of me, it didn’t have to do with me,” she told the crowd. She has since learned, she said, “that politics is personal”:

“Vote for who makes you feel empowered, not for who makes you feel afraid.” — Tracee Ellis Ross, “Blackish” star

Daniels, the creator of “Empire’ and “Star”, talked about how people are avoiding getting needed health care because they don’t have medical insurance.

“One of the actors from my show ‘Star’ had an accident and was sick,” Daniels said. “This is a white gentleman.”

Gillum Campaign
“Blackish” star Tracee Ellis Ross, R. Jai Gillum, and Oscar-nominated director Lee Daniels listen to a speaker Saturday on the Andrew Gillum for Governor campaign trail in Miami. Photo:


Gillum supports women’s rights to make health care decisions for themselves, Medicare for all, and “of making sure that we’re not sending people to the ER,” said his wife R. Jai Gillum. “His opponent, Ron DeSantis, actually said that ‘If you have a pre-existing condition, go to the E.R.'”, R. Jai said. “Guess who pays for that? All of us with health insurance. That’s what drives costs up so we support access to health care for all people, regardless of economic status, what you look like and where you come from.”

Ross said talking about politics is stretching out of he comfort zone, but she wanted to come and thank Gillum’s supporters “for doing the work that I can’t do because of not living here, but that we need you to do”. Here’s more from Ross’ message to voters:

“This is our country and we have to show up. I know they are uncomfortable conversations to have. A lot of our own friends, loved ones and coworkers and community members don’t feel that their vote matters and the truth is that we entered this race with our arms tied behind our backs.

Gillum Campaign
“Blackish” star Tracee Ellis Ross speaks in support of Andrew Gillum for Governor Saturday in Miami. Photo:


“We all have to have those conversations with … people we don’t even know,” Ross said. “Not arguments but engaging connective conversations that allow us to be curious, to admit what we don’t know, to admit when we don’t understand, to ask the questions. Sometimes it’s about having a conversation with someone that lets them feel safe enough to know that they can admit that they aren’t registered or that they don’t know what those different things are on the ballot.

There’s no reason to shame those that aren’t registered or those that can’t vote. We know that if they live in Florida, one in five Black people don’t have the right to vote. We’re working on that. That’s next.”

Daniels said his son, brother and a number of cousins through the years have faced incarceration by “an unjust system.” In Gillum’s candidacy, Daniels said he sees a chance to change that, Florida Politics reported

Early voting started today in Florida.

“It’s really important to get people to vote early if you can so that your hands are free to help those that can’t vote early,” Ross said. “And if people are in any way deterred from voting you can ask the right questions and help and support them get in there to the polls and know what their rights are. I am just very grateful to each of you pulling your friends, knocking on doors, thank you for your hard work.”

Gillum Campaign
R. Jai Gillum speaks in support of her husband, Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum Saturday in Miami. Photo: