By John Boone, ET | This is the story of how a jazz musician became public enemy no. 1, yet still she fought on. In The United States vs. Billie Holiday, Andra Day (a GRAMMY nominee in her own right) stars as the legendary singer, who the government targeted due to her protest song, “Strange Fruit.”
The film hails from director Lee Daniels from a script by playwright Suzan-Lori Parks and co-stars Trevante Rhodes as Jimmy Fletcher, the agent sent to infiltrate Holiday’s circle and spy for the Federal Bureau of Narcotics. (Garrett Hedlund plays head fed Harry Anslinger.)
Ahead of the trailer’s premiere on Monday, Daniels and his leads sat down with ET’s Nischelle Turner to discuss bringing Holiday’s story to the screen.
“It’s a moment in time,” Daniels says. “It’s not a straight-on biopic, but it happened. Everything happened. It’s all documented, so it’s not like it didn’t happen. But it’s [also] a musical. And it’s just my storytelling. It’s what happens when we all get together and tell a story, a Black story.”
That Day is making her acting debut portraying an icon like Holiday is not lost on her, and she admits she was “terrified.” On top of the acting, Day was tasked with singing Holiday’s music too.
> > > > > > > >
The film was made to honor Billie Holiday, although it does not shy away from any of the darker aspects of her life, including addiction and abuse. For Daniels, it’s all in service of telling her story authentically.
> > > > > > > >
The United States vs. Billie Holiday is streaming Feb. 26 on Hulu.
Read the whole story here:
Singer/Songwriter Andra Day (“Rise Up”) on starring in the movie “Lady Day” about Billie Holliday being chased by the Feds. Audra took her last name from Billie’s.