Our country tis of thee…
Bitter land of bigotry. Of thee the lady sang the blues. HULU just announced they’ve acquired the U.S. rights to Lee Daniels’ THE UNITED STATES vs. BILLIE HOLIDAY, which will debut as a Hulu Original film on Hulu on February 26, 2021(Sierra/Affinity will continue to handle international sales on the film). On Monday afternoon the streaming platform released the first footage, which stars Andra Day as Billie Holiday.
Check out the trailer below:
Breathtaking right? Definitely looks like Andra bodied that!
Here’s the film’s synopsis:
The legendary Billie Holiday, one of the greatest jazz musicians of all time, spent much of her career being adored by fans across the globe. Beginning in the 1940’s in New York City, the federal government targeted Holiday in a growing effort to escalate and racialize the war on drugs, ultimately aiming to stop her from singing her controversial and heart-wrenching ballad, “Strange Fruit.” Led by Oscar® nominated director Lee Daniels and introducing Grammy® nominated singer-songwriter Andra Day, THE UNITED STATES vs. BILLIE HOLIDAY unapologetically presents the icon’s complicated, irrepressible life. Screenplay Writer Suzan-Lori Parks, the first African American woman to win a Pulitzer Prize for Drama, pens this intimate tale of a fierce trailblazer whose defiance through music helped usher in the civil rights movement. NAACP Image Award® Nominee Trevante Rhodes and Emmy® Nominee Natasha Lyonne co-star along with Garrett Hedlund, Miss Lawrence, Rob Morgan, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Evan Ross, Tyler James Williams, Tone Bell, and Erik LaRay Harvey.
For Daniels, making the film was a full-circle moment. “I saw ‘Lady Sings The Blues’ when I was 13-years-old, in Philadelphia,” Daniels recalled. “My grandfather was the manager at a theater in West Philly. I saw a love story. Diana Ross. Billy Dee Williams. Richard Pryor. The fashion was fierce, the music was incredible. That was the movie that inspired me to want to make films.”
Daniels said it was important for him to not retread the same material as ‘Lady Sings The Blues’ but that he had a gut feeling, similar to what he’d felt before making ‘The Butler.’ While ‘The Butler’ was intended to reflect the hopefulness radiated by President Barack Obama being elected to office, he suggested that ‘The United States vs. Billie Holiday’ is a call to arms — for all Americans in light of our current political landscape.
Andra Day also spoke to how the film helped her gain a deeper insight into Billie Holiday’s plight.
“I understood she became public enemy number one,” Day told the small virtual audience during the ZOOM presser. “I knew how powerful she was but truly it was a deeper revelation of her power.”
Speaking of power, the singer admitted she was initially insecure about assuming such a mighty role to launch her acting career.
“Honestly I was terrified,” Day revealed. “I was really terrified at the beginning. Lee and I, at the beginning, I think we bonded on that.”
Day added that it was her bond with Daniels that convinced her she could embody the role.
“His energy, his passion for telling her story, and the authenticity, we bonded over that,” Day added. We talked about our insecurities. He was let me know it wasn’t ‘Lady Sings The Blues,’ which was a relief to me because Diana killed that role. But to be a fan of Billie and to make it about the U.S. government and Harry Anslinger that to me was really exciting because it was like vindicating her.”
Andra’s co-star Trevante Rhodes said he knew very little about Jimmy Fletcher before accepting his role but that entire experience left him grateful.
“I didn’t know much at all about that relationship,” Rhodes told the press. “I just knew the feeling that Billie provides in the world…
I feel really blessed that we had the opportunity to tell the story with the people we had the opportunity to tell the story with because Lee is beautiful and Andra was beautiful.”
From what we’ve seen of the trailer it’s a beautiful film. We can’t wait for February 26th!