Andra Day revealed that playing Billie Holiday helped her find strength after battling porn and sex addiction.
The singer and actor garnered high praise and a Golden Globe for her performance in The United States vs Billie Holiday. The 2021 film depicts Holiday’s rise to fame in the jazz world, addiction, arrest and life after being released from prison.
Andra Day spoke to InStyle about taking on the role and her deliberate decision not to portray the iconic, openly bisexual jazz singer in a certain way. Day revealed she purposefully “didn’t want any element of sexualisation” in her performance because she was dealing with her own addiction to porn and sex.
“I had come out of something in my own life — dealing with porn addiction, sex addiction,” Day said. “I’m being very, very candid with you because I’m not the only one. But I knew I wanted all of that very much gone.”
The “Rise Up” singer implied that she felt a connection with Holiday, saying she felt like she honoured the jazz icon in the movie. Day said: “I feel now, after playing Billie, that I’m honouring her and the strength that is femininity.
“I’m definitely in a healthier place to enjoy that because I’m outside of the addiction if you will. So yeah, it’s been really fun because it’s been very new for me.”
The actor – who also was nominated for an Oscar for her portrayal of Holiday – also opened up to InStyle about losing 40lbs for the role. Andra Day said people had asked her if she felt “prettier now” that she’d lost the weight. She admitted that she didn’t because she “liked being juicy”.
“But I do like the way [the weight loss] feels on my body, I like the way it feels on my joints,” Day said. “You do notice a difference.”
She added that she believes there is “no such thing as a classic beauty”. Day explained: “Beauty takes on so many different forms, in different times and depending on the nation.
“It’s about being confident, loving yourself and understanding your value.”
She said she believed that she feels beautiful, and it “has to do with Billie”. Day said it was almost like Holiday was speaking to her, and Holiday opened her up to “valuing myself in a way that I hadn’t fully before”.