Dakota Johnson: ‘I am Riddled with Self-Doubt’

Dakota Johnson’s new movie reflects the struggle of many women in Hollywood. In The High Note, Johnson plays Maggie, the personal assistant to superstar singer Grace Davis (Tracee Ellis Ross). Johnson feels she’s been where Maggie is, and she still relates to the personal and professional struggle.

Dakota Johnson and Kelvin Harrison Jr.
Kelvin Harrison Jr. and Dakota Johnson | Glen Wilson/Focus Features

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Johnson spoke with Harper’s Bazaar about the film and her struggles in the industry. The High Note is available now on VOD for a $19.99 48 hour rental. 

Making it didn’t cure Dakota Johnson of her insecurities 

Johnson started working in movies in 1999, with her mother Melanie Griffith in Crazy in Alabama. She starred in the Fifty Shades trilogy, Suspiria, Bad Times at the El Royale, Wounds and The Peanut Butter Falcon but still questions herself sometimes. It’s only natural.

Dakota Johnson and Tracee Ellis Ross
L-R: Dakota Johnson and Tracee Ellis Ross | Glen Wilson/Focus Features

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“I also am riddled with self-doubt and criticism and so is she,” Johnson said of her High Note character. “I still lose jobs and I don’t get every job that I want, I have dreams of working with certain people on certain projects and it doesn’t happen. It’s kind of a cutthroat industry so I’m used to being shut down.”

Dakota Johnson says society still holds women back

Not to say it’s easy for a man to make it, but Johnson points out there is still a double standard when it comes to women pursuing their dreams. That goes for Hollywood or any industry.

L-R: Dakota Johnson and Tracee Ellis Ross | Glen Wilson/Focus Features

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“For many, many reasons it’s become a societal norm that women should not strive to reach their dreams,” Johnson said. “That’s something that I think is just such a lie. There are so many women who have done incredible superhuman things in the world. Beyond women, any human being should be encouraged to focus and have ambition and discipline and strive to reach their dreams and really become who they want to be come.”

TeaTime Pictures was her answer to that

Johnson formed her own production company, TeaTime pictures, to take more control over her projects. She still faced naysayers but she just ignored them.

Dakota Johnson and Zoe Chao
L-R: Zoe Chao and Dakota Johnson | Glen Wilson/Focus Features

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“I wanted to have my production company for a long time,” Johnson said. “There were many people who said, ‘You can’t do it that way’ or ‘That way won’t work’ or ‘You need to do this to get to this place,’ but I really believed that I could do it a different way and I did. I think it’s the same sort of message that Maggie just believes in herself and I do too.”

Beyonce inspires Dakota Johnson

At least Johnson knows she’s not alone in this struggle. She sees other successful women express similar thoughts and feels solidarity. 

Isn’t it a Beyonce lyric that a diva is a female version ofa hustler? It really just goes back to the female version of what a man does all the time. In an industry where people are constantly searching fot the next thing and wanting something new and fresh, I think it’s definitely people and talents and projects get overlooked all the time. With Maggie, I think that it’s just a cool trait that she doesn’t really ever let that get her down. Though it’s painful and it’s a f*cking bummer, but she keeps going because it’s all she has.

Dakota Johnson, Bazaar, 5/29/2020