This week, film fans were treated to some first-look images from the upcoming Billie Holiday biopic United States vs Billie Holiday, shared exclusively to Vanity Fair.
The images show Grammy-nominated actress Andra Day in the starring role of Billie. This will be her first leading role in a feature-length movie after previously playing the role of Sweet Tea in Cars 3 and Minton’s Singer in Marshall. Variety predicts that she could be a contender for Best Actress at the 2021 Oscars.
The cast also includes Trevante Rhodes (Moonlight) as undercover agent Jimmy Fletcher and Natasha Lyonne (American Pie, Russian Doll) as American actress Tallulah Bankhead.
The film is a biopic of the American jazz and swing singer Billie Holiday, and follows the Federal Bureau of Narcotics’ mission to imprison Holiday for drug charges as punishment for singing ‘Strange Fruits’, a protest song against lynching. Lesser-known parts of Holiday’s life such as her love for fur and jewels and her romances with women will also feature in the film.
The biopic is directed by Lee Daniels, who previously directed Precious and Monster’s Ball, both of which received multiple Academy Award nominations. He hopes the film will help to educate viewers about the racism that Black people face.
“With the world’s eyes forced to look at the centuries-old oppression of Black people, I hope The United States Vs. Billie Holiday will add to this important conversation by shining a light on systemic racism and social injustice,” he said in a statement to Deadline. “I also feel that in this time of great reckoning it is essential we celebrate the life and artistry of an unsung Civil Rights warrior, Billie Holiday.”
The script is written by Suzan-Lori Parks, the first African American woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and is inspired by Johann Hari’s book Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs.
It is set to be released in the United States on 12 February 2021 and in the UK on 19 February, according to IMDb.
Words by Ellen Leslie
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