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Tracee Ellis Ross stunned by Michelle Obama praise at Crystal + Lucy Awards

Hillary Clinton also made an appearance at the ceremony via video message to congratulate Elizabeth Banks on her honour.

Actress Tracee Ellis Ross was briefly left speechless at Tuesday's (13Jun17) Crystal + Lucy Awards after former U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama praised her Black-ish character as a true "inspiration".

The star was among the honourees at the annual Women In Film event in Los Angeles, and she was surprised with a video message from Mrs. Obama as she stepped onstage at the Beverly Hilton Hotel to accept the Lucy Award for Innovation in Television.

"Your character on Black-ish, Bow, is an inspiration for folks all across this country," she smiled in the clip, as Tracee watched in awe.

"Oh my goodness gracious," she gasped.

The daughter of superstar Diana Ross went on to express her gratitude to Black-ish producers for casting her as Dr. Rainbow 'Bow' Johnson in the family sitcom, which focuses on an upper-middle-class African-American family.

"To be a part of reshaping what it is to be a modern woman through the face and being-ness of a joyful black woman is really special," she told the audience, before questioning why there are so few meaningful leading roles for women of colour.

"Why are black women underrepresented in the stories that get told?" she wondered, noting, "That question is not just a question for black women."

Actress and filmmaker Elizabeth Banks was also celebrated with the Crystal Award, in recognition of her work in expanding the roles of women within Hollywood, and was introduced via a video message from another former First Lady and Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.

Meanwhile, Oscar winner Lupita Nyong'o presented director Mira Nair with the Dorothy Arzner Director's Award, actress Zoey Deutch was named the recipient of the Max Mara Face of the Future Award, and veteran newsman Dan Rather was feted for his humanitarian work.

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