‘Billie Vacation’ star Andra Day on what helped her most to play the real-life jazz singer

For her first lead function, Andra Day portrays the long-lasting singer Billie Vacation in “The USA vs. Billie Vacation.”

The actress intensely prepped for the half researching the jazz star’s profession, music, and private life but it surely was a video on YouTube that really helped her most get into character. 

“Google, I suppose, proved to be probably the most helpful [tool]. Studying, like each ebook that I might. However there’s significantly there’s a clip on YouTube the place Billie is simply form of speaking along with her band,” Day described to Fox Information whereas selling the movie.

“She’s speaking with the gamers and with the arrangers. And he or she’s simply type of capturing the s–t. She’s in her headspace. She’s singing,” the “Rise Up” singer continued. “Telling tales, laughing, simply speaking.”


Day mentioned watching that clip actually gave her a “good image of [Billie’s] voice and simply her moods and her character and the way she is in every of those totally different states.”

In director Lee Daniels’ adaptation, Day performs Vacation within the final years of her life as habit and hardship have worn her down. Vacation handed in 1959.

Andra Day performs jazz singer-songwriter Billie Vacation in ‘The USA vs Billie Vacation.’
(Takashi Seida/Paramount Photos through AP)

The movie, which is able to drop on Hulu on Feb. 26, follows Vacation within the 1940s when a Black federal agent, Jimmy Fletcher (Trevante Rhodes), is ordered to assist get her arrested for heroin use and cease her from singing her anti-lynching music “Unusual Fruit.”

“What I respect most about her was her dedication and her potential to face as much as the federal government. She was simply decided to do it her approach. I do not assume she checked out herself as we do, which is now a civil rights chief,” Daniels advised Fox Information. 


Singer Billie Holiday is pictured here recording her album 'Lady in Satin' at the Columbia Records studio in December 1957. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Singer Billie Vacation is pictured right here recording her album ‘Woman in Satin’ on the Columbia Information studio in December 1957. (Photograph by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Pictures)

Rhodes echoed the sentiment. He advised Fox Information he was bowled over by the “depth of her battle.”

“I imply, we knew [about] her drug habit. We knew that she was having hassle with the FBI, however we did not understand how a lot hassle,” he added. “We did not know the extent of why… so simply having the chance to lookup all these items was actually stunning and eye-opening.”

Andra Day as Billie Holidays in Lee Daniels' 'The United States vs Billie Holiday.'

Andra Day as Billie Holidays in Lee Daniels’ ‘The USA vs Billie Vacation.’
(Takashi Seida/Hulu through AP)

Vacation has beforehand been performed by Diana Ross within the 1972 movie “Woman Sings the Blues” and Audra McDonald within the 2014 Broadway play “Woman Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill.”

Ross’ son, Evan Ross, stars within the movie and was already knowledgeable about Vacation’s contribution to music and civil rights. 


He advised Fox Information, “I’ve identified the story clearly very well by way of my mom’s efficiency and doing my very own analysis…. however I had no concept about Harry Anslinger [then-commissioner of the U.S. Treasury Department’s Federal Bureau of Narcotics] and what he was attempting to do and taking down Billie Vacation due to the phrases in her songs.”

“The USA vs. Billie Vacation” premieres Friday, Feb. 26 on Hulu. 

FOX’s Ashley Dvorkin contributed to this report.

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