Now her daughter, “Black-ish” star Tracee Ellis Ross, is coming out in her own way — as a singer — in the new film “The High Note,” which opens at home on demand Friday.
“I always wanted to be a singer,” says Ross, 47, who plays pop diva Grace Davis in the movie co-starring Dakota Johnson as her personal assistant. “I don’t know where along the way — consciously or unconsciously — I took another path. I had a lot of great success and great opportunities as an actress, and I got busy. So it wasn’t as if I had closed the door on that dream.”
Fifty-nine years after her mom released her debut single, the Supremes’ “I Want a Guy,” Ross is living her dream with her first single, “Love Myself,” off the “High Note” soundtrack. “Honestly, it feels completely surreal,” she tells The Post. “We’re already in the most surreal time ever, so it’s a little bit like, ‘Are you sure this is real?’ I’ve been holding this secret for a little bit, ’cause I recorded this last summer, and it is one of the most exciting things that I’ve ever done. I kid you not.”
As an actress, Ross has certainly proven that she is a boss in her own right. After starring in the series “Girlfriends” — the African-American answer to “Sex and the City” — she has played Dr. Rainbow Johnson on “Black-ish” since 2014. In fact, three years ago, she became the first black woman since 1982 to win the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a TV Musical or Comedy Series.
But, doing all of her own singing in “The High Note,” Ross had a lofty legacy to live up to in her 76-year-old mother. “Honestly, it was terrifying,” she tells The Post. “My mom is extraordinary and a beloved icon globally for her voice. So, of course, I worried about the comparison and all that. But it was more [like] all of a sudden, at 47 years old, trying to learn how to swim. I had to face that fear and walk through it.”
With help from producer Rodney Jerkins — who has worked with A-list artists such as Beyoncé, Lady Gaga and Michael Jackson — Ross found her groove: “The truth is that once I got to singing, once I got comfortable in the studio, once I started trusting Rodney … I started to trust what was coming out of me. I mean, I was at home and had a ball.”
Ross, who hosted the American Music Awards in 2017 and 2018, also got sibling support from her older sister Rhonda and younger brother Evan, who both sing. “In the moments that I was finding my way in the studio, when the fear would come up, I called Rhonda and I called Evan,” she says. “I am grateful to have siblings that actually know what it feels like to do something like this. We’re such a close family.”
One family member who wasn’t consulted, though, was Mama Ross: “I talk to my mom hundreds of times a day, but I don’t usually bring work stuff to her … Nothing about the character had anything to do with my mom. I’m playing an international music icon, so there’s an understandable connection there. But no, I didn’t fashion any of the role after my mother. Obviously, I grew up watching her, being her child, so some of it is just in my blood, in my bones.”
Like the Supreme One, her character, Grace Davis, is a fierce force — and Ross embraced the opportunity to represent a powerful black woman. “Rihanna, Beyoncé, Oprah, Michelle Obama — we see black women in their power all over our culture now in a way that I’m so grateful for,” she says. “And it was obviously fun to play that, but also to play it consciously, to be able to own that part of the story.”