The second you hit play in The United States Vs. Billie Holiday is the actress ’debut with our cover star Andra Day, there’s a visceral feeling that you can hear it. You might call it magic, but if you watch the film, you’ll know that “magic” is too cliché and syrupy of a word to accurately describe Day ' s Golden Globe – winner, nominated by Oscar describing. Instead, it’s a feeling similar to a sound you might hear at a baseball game, the emerging cracks of wood colliding with cowhide, a grand slam that no one, including the Sun, really saw coming. Of course, The United States Vs. Billie Holiday was a success in the literal sense. The film has captivated audiences and has received national critical recognition since its release on Feb. 26 on Hulu, but there is another layer to this particular moment. Not only did the film showcase the true 360 legacy of jazz legend Billie Holiday (shedding light on the close, complex side of the singer who may not be familiar to fans), but it also brought out the unfortunate history of American.
As the film's first moments unfold, a terrifying melody is made all the more poignant by a caption reminiscent of the failure of the U.S. Senate in 1937 to pass a bill banning excavation by Americans. Then, a direct cut revealed the Day ready as Holiday on stage, dripping with a glittering gold Prada gown, shoulder diamond earrings, and the singer’s signature: a flower, precisely pinned to above his ear. Aesthetically, the image is enough to sweep you off your feet and transport you through Holiday’s three-decade period of artistry, but Day’s piercing looks and weakness will keep your attention-over the course of the film, yes , but also for everyone The day is intended for us as a singer, actor, and "servant of God." As I quickly discovered in the course of our 37-minute conversation, the latter is intrinsically connected to Day’s spirit, and in his eyes, it may be his most important role so far.
Although some may think that Sun is an activist (his chart-topping single "Rise Up" became the unofficial song for Black Lives Matter, for example), it's not really a term he recognizes. "It's fun to hear the word ' activist ' because I don ' t think of myself as one," he chuckles. "I know people will say I'm probably very cliché and humble but I'm not humble, but I'm not. I want people to know that I love God, and I want people to meet me when they meet me. title specified, I don't give them to myself, and, you know, neither did Billie.It just wants to help people and wants to deliver more than anything.I'm a servant.It's that, and that's it best way for me to describe it. In my mind, I have a beautiful picture of eternity, just about everyone being higher than ourselves and everyone being loved and valued and cared for. ”
God, said to me Day, was also one of the main reasons he decided to audition for him today to play the award – a role that, initially, both he and the film’s director, Lee Daniels, felt had he has no n business related. Despite Day’s long-standing love for the Holiday, which dates back to her age, she has no professional acting experience. He did not have any acting experience other than his early years spent at a performance school in the making of musical theater. "I always knew I wanted to get involved in the arts and perform, but at the time, it was more about ' Well, I wanted to try doing Broadway, or I wanted to try recording music? '" Never, he said, would he believe he could compete with Hollywood’s elite acting talent for the industry’s most expensive award. "I mean, I didn't want to do this movie. I was horrified. I was like, ' I'm going through the audition, but I'm going to be terrible. ' Lee and I, we're kind of forced on each other, ”he laughs.
“ But then we started talking, and when I found out that the film would focus on the Federal Bureau of Narcotics and how Harry J. Anslinger, J. Edgar Hoover created , and [Joseph] McCarthy targeted this war on drugs to get Billie to stop singing ' Strange Fruit, ' a song about lynching in America, I realize this film will vindicate his legacy. That was very enticing to me. That’s what made me audition. "
The Sun was also surprised by Daniels' devotion to tell the truth and introduce a layered, dynamic woman from decades ago to today's audience. Those two words — layers and truth — may be Day's whole line when it comes to the women who inspire him.Of course there's Holiday, but there's also civil rights icon Angela Davis, whom she featured in the music video of the latest single "Tigress and Tweed." "I'm attracted to fierce, strong, Black women," she muses. "And not just for our fight. We're fierce and strong in so many different ways. I think it's interesting when people think femininity is very delicate and soft.I mean, super strength of femininity! There are layers to us, and we are all different.I like to see us in spaces where, traditionally, it is not we are still represented. ”
I asked the question that perhaps it was the historical influences he was attracted to and his obvious dedication to truth that drove the decisions he made professionally. He agrees, answering that more than anything, he strives to express the truth through his work. "I'm a deep spiritual person. There are a lot of strong voices in this space right now, and I just don't understand sowing the seeds of division. That's not how I encounter God. I think when it comes to equality in races, gender equality, these are systems of inequality built on deception and lies.If you allow systems like this to continue and grow, you have to control and manipulate the narrative.I think the only thing that can destroy a system of deception, obviously, is a healthy dose of truth.And I think people need to understand the intent of inequality.It's not just ' oopsy-daisy, it happened like this. ' No. It ' s something that was built up. ”
Despite the buzz and unforgivable success of his first professional acting job, Day sat on the other side of a screen from me by Zoom, completely unaffected by his own success. Though encouraged to pursue the new path in acting, he confessed with a refreshing caution that he was still overwhelmed by fear. "I think there's an official name for it right now: imposter syndrome. I'm the one with the biggest case of it. Even now, as we speak, I go to all these interviews and everyone exclaims how good I am, and in my head, just like me, they don't really know.I think it's one thing, especially, that we, as women, really struggle, and then on another level, we, as Black women, deal. I think humility is a strength and fuel, but feelings of uncertainty and inadequacy — of inadequacy, this imposter syndrome — are what I want to see rooted. ” Sun has been working on how to exactly continue as normal after eating, breathing, and sleeping on all things Billie Holiday for three full years. In fact, when I asked him what the detachment process was — how it would be pulled by someone from a figure of that caliber — Day replied without a hesitation — that he was still, quite honestly. , trying to figure out that part. "Prayer has been a big part of trying to find the place of balance again and recognize who I am and who I should be at that particular time. There are aspects of Billie that won't be lost, and there's a big part of me that doesn't want to. to him. I’ve been here three years, and all of a sudden, it’s like, ‘Okay, go be you now.’ Therapy isn’t a scary word for me.After all the journalism is done for it, I’ll I talk to someone to make sure everything is copacetic here, ”she laughed as she tapped her caramel-brown curls.
That's not to say Day will take a lot of time away from the spotlight, though. Just weeks before we spoke, “The Tigress and Tweed,” the first single from her upcoming album (mark your calendars for June 4), hit the stratosphere, and her portrayal of Angela Davis in the music video will give you a shiver. Additional solos from the album will hit in April, and Rays of the Sun as she shares details, adding that there is definitely some “Billie DNA” injected into the project. “I want to tell a story, and I’m really making up something right now and just praying about it because hopefully, I won’t suck it up,” he laughs. "I just need to remind myself that, hey, it worked one last time. Say, you know, let's continue to believe in yourself."
If you look at the past moment of the red carpet or captivating clips from her performances on stage, it is immediately clear how much history has impacted her approach.fashion and beauty as well.Even before her portrayal of Billie Holiday on the big screen, you will notice the subtle and not too subtle nodding to the retro glamor and old-school flair of jazz and blues woven through her choices in fashion, hair, and makeup. "I'm so inspired," she nodded. "I've always been kind of a vintage one. girls, and I just love the style — Dorothy Dandridge, Pearl Bailey, Billie Holiday. It seems like everything is done in more detail and intent. The structure and the artistry and, you know, just the drama of it all. It’s so beautiful, and so I’m kind of living that world in my head, ”he smiled.
To be clear, however, it’s unlikely you’ll see Day spinning one day. -on today’s basis.Even though she has remained loyal to her longtime glam team featuring makeup artist Porsche Cooper, hairstylist Tony Medina, manicurist Jolene Brodeur, and stylist Wouri Vice (who are all loving he called his family), often, he says, you’ll catch him with a basketball tee, sweat, hair not rolled up, and legs and armpits more likely than not to shave. ”I’m too lazy when it comes to in my appearance. And that’s awful, but I think it definitely makes the moments when I dress up more fun and special. I have two different sides: the glowy effervecence or vintage vixen meets the evil villains at Disney. But the truth is, sis, in my regular life, no. If I have time and I'm not lazy? Then, yes, he was a tiny little squirrel. "
As Day and I talked about our love for sweat and shaving, he made me laugh so well that I literally choked on my last question" Don't worry- I am the queen of the poor, "he assured me. When I took a breath and finally formed a sentence, I asked Day about the social pressures to look at and show in a certain way. He immediately offered to his advice for anyone struggling to feel empowered, beautiful, or comfortable as their most true self. ”You know, I believe that every single one of us is created with purpose, with purpose. Every single person is beautiful. We must remember that most of us, at least here in America, view ourselves through the lens of this white, male, straight patriarchy. I think it really boils down to not studying everything viewed through that lens and understanding how limiting it is. And likewise, it is important to note that there is only one of us . Erin, is that how you pronounce your name? There was only one Erin, and there had never been another Erin; there will never be another Erin. And when you think about it, you’re just like, ‘ Damn . When I'm gone, there it is. ' Clearly, we ' re beautiful and designed with purpose. ”
As we combined our time, Day seemed to have made his aspiration as an artist, singer, and servant present the truth as clear as possible. The narrow little lens we mentioned? He's here to remind us that it's "too super-duper small" and "too super-duper isn't true." Andra Day has a message for all of us: You are the only one, and you are the most important commodity.
The United States Vs. Billie Holiday is streaming now on Hulu.
Photographer: Lauren Crew
Stylist: Lauren Eggertsen
Styling Assistant: Tori López
Hairstylist: Tony Medina Tony Medina Makeup Artist: Porsche Cooper
Manicurist: Jolene Brodeur
Creative Director: Cassandra Learn