*This winter, one of the greatest jazz musicians of all time is brought to life by a Best Actress and Grammy nominee!
Andra Day stars as the legendary Billie Holiday in Oscar nominated director Lee Daniels‘ “The United States vs. Billie Holiday” – the intimate tale of a fierce trailblazer whose defiance through music helped usher in the civil rights movement. EUR correspondent Fahnia Thomas spoke with the songstress and director about pimps, clay and human rights.
Q: What did you learn about your leading lady while filming “The United States versus Billie Holiday?”
LD: That I had to teach her how to smoke cigarettes! The girl couldn’t smoke cigarettes, she couldn’t drink right, I had to turn her out [jokingly]! I felt like pimp daddy. Do you miss smoking [Andra]?
AD: Sometimes – yesterday and today. At the end of a press day, I’m like, if I had a pack…that’s why I don’t buy them.
Q: What did you learn from Lee’s direction?
AD: I learned how to make a film! It was a lesson in acting, film making, lighting, shooting, script writing and how to be present. It was a lesson in reacting in the moment. Tasha Smith gave me a gift – she made me like water or clay in Lee’s hands.
Q: What human rights issue would lay everything on the line for?
LD: Because I’m a gay Black man, I’d lay my life on the line for the many teens taking their lives because they’re [treated like their] others. We don’t talk about it [enough], they’re invisible to people in our own culture. That’s the cause I’m fighting for.
AD:…I echo that. Young marginalized communities – not just Black people, not just communities of color, LGBTQ+ communities – underrepresented communities. Particularly, young people because they are exposed to so much information. Anxiety is mounting…we’re seeing greater levels of depression and suicide. I would lay my life on the line for equality. Particularly, dealing with this younger generation, they deserve a chance.
For more details on “The United States vs. Billie Holiday” go to hulu.com or follow @usvsbillieholiday. The film drops February 26th on Hulu.