For her new film “The High Note,” Tracee Ellis Ross is borrowing some of her mother Diana Ross’ star power and soul, playing a legendary recording artist who finds the next chapter in her life thanks to encouragement from her plucky young assistant, played by Dakota Johnson.
“The High Note” is the latest film from Nisha Ganatra, who last year directed Emma Thompson and Mindy Kaling in the Sundance darling “Late Night.” This film has that same feminine energy about a legendary, aging woman in entertainment and her protégé, only this time set in the world of the LA music scene.
Ross plays Grace Davis, a superstar whose talent and ego have reached unbelievable heights. Maggie (Johnson) is Grace’s overworked personal assistant who’s stuck running errands, but still aspires to her childhood dream of becoming a music producer. Davis is then faced with the choice of a Las Vegas residency or trying to record her first album in decades.
“It’s really bleak out there for middle aged singers. In the history of music, only five women over 40 have ever had a number one hit, and only one of them was black,” Ross says in the trailer. “I know everyone is happy with me doing the same show every night. What if there’s something more?”
Ross and Johnson star in the film alongside Kelvin Harrison Jr. as an up-and-coming musician and Ice Cube as Davis’ manager. Zoe Chao, Eddie Izzard, Bill Pullman and Diplo also co-star.
Ganatra is directing “The High Note,” originally titled “Covers,” at Focus Features from a script by Flora Greeson. Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner produced.
“The High Note” opens in theaters May 8. Watch the first trailer above.