Andra Day is opening up about how she prepared to play Billie Holiday in Hulu’s upcoming movie, The United States vs. Billie Holiday.
Speaking to Leslie Odom Jr. for Variety’s Actors on Actors, the 36-year-old entertainer revealed she went deep into Billie‘s life in order to play the jazz singer.
“I basically abused my body for a long time,” she admitted. “I’m joking and not really joking. I got the role at the very top of 2018. Reading everything I could get my hands on. Listening to every interview. Apparently, I exhausted the internet of Billie Holiday photos. Apparently, the internet will tell you that you’ve reached the end.”
Andra added that she “put my family through it; I put myself through it…I went from 163 pounds to 124 pounds. I would talk like her and I don’t drink or smoke, but I started smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol. Not that I recommend people do this; I just was desperate because this is my first role. I just asked God to give me all of the pain and trauma. I asked him to give me her pain and give me her trauma.”
She also spoke about changing the way she sang just for the role.
“That was an early decision that we made right away to do the singing,” Andra says. “Every time I would sing a song I’d go, OK, Lee’s going to hear this and he’s going to fire me. But I wouldn’t have done it if they’d been, ‘Do it in your voice.’ That for me would have probably been a no.”
“There’s victory and there is pain in her voice. So to me it was just like we’ve got to get it, we have to get it, you know what I mean? It’ll have to be my interpretation of it, but it has to be there.”
The United States vs. Billie Holiday will be out on Hulu on February 26.
Watch the heart stopping trailer here…
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