Billie Holiday is a jazz legend, but her life was far from a happy tune. This lady did sing the blues, and she lived them, too. Now all that drama is hitting Hulu in “The United States vs. Billie Holiday.” Something tells us it’s going to be this cast versus all other award show nominees.
Character in “The United States vs. Billie Holiday”: “NAACP says Billie Holiday is the voice of our people.”
Just listen to it.
Andra Day (as Billie Holiday): (singing) “I love me…”
But in “The United States vs. Billie Holiday,” it’s not so sweet.
In the biopic, the Federal Bureau of Narcotics launches a sting operation against the jazz singer — and doesn’t let up until her death.
Garrett Hedlund (as Harry Anslinger): “Those lyrics provoke people.”
Jeff Corbett (as Congressman J.P. Thomas): “Y’all got a plan?”
Damian Joseph Quinn (as Roy Cohn): “She’s a drug addict.”
Garrett Hedlund (as Harry Anslinger): “Exactly!”
Grammy nominee Andra Day plays Billie. She says, in a way, the icon gave up her life to speak up about racial inequality.
Andra Day: “She is truly the godmother of civil rights, who did not die because she was a tragic drug addict, but her life was really siphoned from her intentionally. This was a very slow, public lynching.”
The FBN reportedly started to threaten Billie after she performed this song.
Andra Day (as Billie Holiday): (singing) “Southern trees…”
“Strange Fruit,” about lynchings and murders.
Dusan Dukic (as Joe Glaser): “Get her off that stage.”
Andra Day (as Billie Holiday): (singing): “They’re strange…”
Lee Daniels directed the drama, which is already nominated for Best Actress and Original Song Golden Globes. He says her legacy is inspiring him today.
Lee Daniels: “The gift that she’s given me is teaching me not to judge. It lives in all of her music. It lives in her pores, lives in every action that she did..”
It also touches on a lesser-known story: that she ended up in an affair with Jimmy Fletcher, the agent hired to nab her on drug charges.
Lee Daniels: “Empathize with Jimmy, that was the hardest thing. We understood that he had a job to do, but that he was regretful of what he did. And how do you make up for it?”
But more than anything, Andra wants us to recognize Billie Holiday’s real impact.
Andra Day: “We need to thank Billie Holiday and acknowledge her story in order to move forward and understand our present and our future.”
“The United States vs. Billie Holiday” will be available to stream on Hulu starting Feb. 26.
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