Exclusive: Andra Day On The Golden Globe-Winning ‘The United States vs. Billie Holiday’

‘I think the reason her story is still relevant is because it’s never truly been told’

Ronda Racha Penrice
ZORA
Published in
4 min readFeb 28, 2021

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The United States vs. Billie Holiday” Photo: Hulu

If you’ve seen Lady Sings the Blues and think you have The United States vs. Billie Holiday figured out, you are in for a surprise. A shock even. For decades, the picture most of us have had of Billie Holiday is one of a hopeless drug addict with awful taste in men, save for the one man, played by Billy Dee Williams, who loved Holiday fiercely but still couldn’t pull her from the clenches of drugs.

Many people also think of her solely as the woman who sang the antilynching song, “Strange Fruit,” back in 1939. And, if we are telling the truth, we thought that was it. Only it wasn’t.

But now it’s 2021, and we should be used to investigating the full truth about Black women, especially the famous ones. After all, don’t they still downplay that Josephine Baker was a spy for the French Resistance during World War II? Or ignore how active Madam C.J. Walker was in the antilynching movement? Not to mention, we still don’t have a proper film for Nina Simone, who certainly used her voice to stand up against injustice during the civil rights movement.

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Ronda Racha Penrice
ZORA
Writer for

ATL-based Ronda Racha Penrice is a writer/cultural critic specializing in film/TV, lifestyle, and more. She is the author of Black American History For Dummies.