Tracee Ellis Ross was in her first major film role in over a decade with the musical dramedy The High Note. With a starry cast including Kelvin Harrison Jr., Dakota Johnson and Ice Cube, the film was the perfect watch at the beginning of quarantine. Shadow and Act recently caught up with Harrison Jr. about The High Note, as well as his other recent and upcoming projects.
2020 was a big tone change for Harrison as he had the lighter films like The High Note and The Photograph. This is a stark contrast to the darker dramas like Waves and Luce that he headlined in 2019. “I think these [lighter films like The High Note] are harder to do for me,” he explained. “And I think [that’s] because what I’m always trying to craft [and] find same undertones of what the indies feel like…with how Waves feels like in terms of the drama, because that exists in all of our lives…but like keep it light. And I think it’s tricky because then you have to do all of that work and then figure out how to elevate it a little bit [so that] it’s just on the surface, but you can still [have] some humanity, some fear, some excitement and some joy and all of these things, but at the but over a joke or over a smile. That’s why I respect comedians so much. I talk to Tracee [about it] all the time, I was like, ‘The work you do on black-ish is huge to me.’ I think it’s so complicated. But you have to really have a strong sense of self and self-awareness of what’s going on in the world to be able to find levity and some serious topics, which they do often on black-ish, as well as in our movie. So it’s harder. The work is actually hard. I was more stressed than I’ve ever been working on The High Note than I have any other movie.”
Harrison also teased his role in Euphoria season 2, which was suspended due to the pandemic. “I really love the world. I love the way Sam Levinson [Euphoria‘s creator and showrunner] articulates the experiences of young people and mental health, and how he embraces individuality. I just love the dialogue around the show, [and as] a person of color that happens to be African American, and to enter the space alongside Zendaya and Hunter Schaffer, and Barbie [Ferreria], and Alexa [Demie] and et cetera really excites me. And to be a male, a Black man as well, it’s exciting to me. [Seeing] how we can explore some of these same ideas and concepts and how we fit into this, into that world, has been exciting. I know Algee [Smith] is on the show and I’m just [excited] to that narrative. So, it’s been really wonderful. Sam is a great collaborator and we’ve had a lot of beautiful conversations about what we want to do with the character and what we see and how we feel. And he’s just very playful and it feels proper. [This is what] proper art is supposed to be like when you’re in this phase of it. And the pandemic has only given us more time to really sink our teeth into it, to make sure that it’s actually provocative.”
You can view the full video below where he talked more about working with Tracee Ellis Ross on The High Note, his role in Godfather of Harlem, taking on lighter material after Waves and Luce, and much more.
The High Note is now available to own digital, as well as Blu-Ray/DVD.
You can also check out a deleted scene from the film featuring Ice Cube below:
Photo: Focus Features