Tracee Ellis Ross On How Her Legendary Mother Diana Ross Influenced Her Character In 'The High Note'

The ‘Black-ish’ star portrays a superstar singer.

Tracee Ellis Ross, for the first time, will step into the spotlight as a singer in her new film The High Note. She plays a superstar singer named Grace Davis.

The story follows Grace Davis who initially shies away from making new music in favor of playing her older music at concerts. However, when her assistant Maggie (portrayed by Dakota Johnson) suggests she records new music, Davis has a change of heart and attempts to catapult herself to higher levels.

The Black-ish star spoke with Entertainment Weekly about the upcoming film. "Grace Davis is one of those women who has spent her life being what she thought everybody wanted her to be so that she could make her dreams come true," Ross explained. "And she's at that point in her career and her life where that crossroad happens. Where I can keep doing what I've been doing because it works and this is what everyone wants me to do or I can be who I am and let my real Grace Davis fly.”

She continued, "That's what the movie is about. It's about the relationship between my assistant and me, and my assistant also has dreams. It's such a fun story."

Ross will sing six original songs fulfilling a dream she always had but never followed. "Working on this film was a really great experience for me," said Ross. "And it was so much fun to be working in a different world and a different genre. It was also terrifying for me to face my dreams, I was so scared to sing! I really wanted this script for so long and I wanted this role. I went after it and I'm so happy with how it all turned out."

When it comes to inspiration for the upcoming film, Tracee says her famous mother, Diana Ross, did and did not have a major impact on her acting and singing.

"In all honesty, none of this is taken from the world I know of being my mom's child," she says. "The only thing is that I always had the dream of being able to sing. But this character was so beautifully and wonderfully written, and the story really has nothing to do with any of the things that I know from my mom's experience -- except for the fact that there's a real humanity to this woman and she's not a paper-thin quote-unquote diva that the world usually paints larger-than-life women as. She's a real person. That's the only connection that I can draw. That a woman who holds a great space in the world is actually a human with a heart, who has fears and disappointments and struggles all on her own."

Could The High Note springboard Tracee Ellis Ross to a career in music?

"I have no idea. I mean, who knows?! Maybe? It was really fun. We'll see..." she says. "Playing Grace has been life-changing, in all honesty. I'd always been terrified of singing. Whenever I would sing and people were listening, I'd make it comedic and silly. I had to go into the studio before we even started shooting, for about three weeks. We were looking for what songs we were going to use that worked with my voice. I had never been in a studio in my life, so it was really a daunting task."

The High Note hits theaters on May 8. It also stars Kelvin Harrison Jr., Zoë Chao, Bill Pullman, Eddie Izzard and Ice Cube.


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