Golden Globes nominee profile: Andra Day (‘The United States Vs. Billie Holiday) could be double winner for debut

Andra Day makes her film debut as the title character in “The United States Vs. Billie Holiday,” set to premiere on Hulu on February 26, just two days before the Golden Globes ceremony. The Grammy-nominated songstress may be new to the screen, but the Hollywood Foreign Press Association took notice in a big way, nominating the “Rise Up” singer for two Golden Globes including Best Drama Actress.

At the February 28 ceremony, Day faces off against Viola Davis (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”), Vanessa Kirby (“Pieces of a Woman”), Frances McDormand (“Nomadland”) and Carey Mulligan (“Promising Young Woman”) in the race for Best Film Drama Actress. Day is the only rookie in this bunch, but she joins Kirby as a first-time nominee. Davis and McDormand are prior winners for “Fences” and “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” respectively and Mulligan was nominated once prior for “An Education.”

In “The United States Vs. Billie Holiday,” Day transformed herself by dropping 39 pounds and changing her own magical voice to play the jazz legend. She even started smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol, desperate to understand the trauma the “Strange Fruit” singer endured. The Hulu film depicts the true story of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics targeting Holiday with a retaliatory, undercover sting operation led by Jimmy Fletcher (Trevante Rhodes), with whom she has a turbulent affair. It also dives deep into the icon’s struggles with addiction, fame and abusive relationships.

SEE 2021 Golden Globes nominations list: Nominees for 78th annual ceremony

In addition to her acting bid, Day was nominated for Best Original Song for co-writing “Tigress & Tweed” with Raphael Saadiq on the film’s soundtrack. Day describes her new song as an evolution of “Strange Fruit” and a call to action that compliments Holiday’s classic. She will compete in the Best Original Song category with “Fight For You” (“Judas and the Black Messiah”), “Hear My Voice” (“The Trial of the Chicago 7”), “Io Si (Seen)” (“The Life Ahead”) and “Speak Now” (“One Night in Miami”).

Prior to her foray into film, Day was nominated for three Grammy Awards and an Emmy for her music. Now she hopes to go from singer to Golden Globe winner like Diana Ross, who won the since retired category of Most Promising Newcomer for portraying Holiday in “Lady Sings the Blues” in 1972. The Golden Globes will air live coast-to-coast on February 28 at 5 p.m. PT/8 p.m. ET on NBC.

This article is a part of Gold Derby’s “Golden Globes nominee profile” series spotlighting the 2021 contenders in film and TV.

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