One of the most tweeted-about events during the Emmys broadcast wasn’t even part of the awards ceremony—it was an ad for Apple Music directed by Ava Duvernay and starring Kerry Washington, Taraji P. Henson, and Mary J. Blige. In the ad, (the first of three that will be rolled out over the course of the week), Washington and Henson arrive for a hangout session at Blige’s house and notice she’s blasting Slick Rick. Blige explains that she used Apple Music’s “For You” feature, which recommends songs based on your stated preferences and listening history. As Washington says, “It’s like you have a boyfriend that makes you a mix tape in your laptop.” What follows is an impromptu dance party in Blige’s living room.
This ad would be utterly unremarkable if it starred any other three women—the dialogue is fairly banal, and streaming-service recommendation algorithms are old news. But Washington, Henson, and Blige are three of the most beloved entertainers in Hollywood, and it’s simply charming to watch these three megastars nerd out to the drum break in Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight.” They’re also great actors: Coming from some other actress’s mouth, the line “This is incredible” could sound cheesy and fake, but coming from Washington’s, you believe it.
As speculation that Duvernay had directed the ad began to spread on Twitter, the director coyly confirmed:
Read more in Slate about the Emmys.