Sunday, March 7, 2021

EUR Exclusive: What Andra Day is Willing to Lay Her Life on the Line For (Watch)

*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.

Andra Day, Kevin HanchardTHE UNITED STATES VS. BILLIE HOLIDAY
Andra Day and Kevin Hanchard in THE UNITED STATES VS. BILLIE HOLIDAY from Paramount Pictures. Photo Credit: Takashi Seida.

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.

Andra Day, THE UNITED STATES VS. BILLIE HOLIDAY
Andra Day stars in THE UNITED STATES VS. BILLIE HOLIDAY from Paramount Pictures. Photo Credit: Takashi Seida.

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.

Da'Vine Joy Randolph, Andra Day,THE UNITED STATES VS. BILLIE HOLIDAY
Da’Vine Joy Randolph and Andra Day in THE UNITED STATES VS. BILLIE HOLIDAY from Paramount Pictures. Photo Credit: Takashi Seida.

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.

Lee Daniels, Andra Day, The United States vs. Billie Holiday
Lee Daniels and Andra Day in in THE UNITED STATES VS. BILLIE HOLIDAY from Paramount Pictures.

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