Billie Holiday is one of the most beloved Blues singers in history, but like many Black icons who were carving out a career in the spotlight in the early 20th century, she had a life that was mired in conflict and hostility. Many had racist institutions and racist communities banding against them, but for Holiday, she had the U.S. government out to get her. Holiday’s glamorous career and life, as well as her conflict with the FBI, is the focus of Lee Daniels’ new biopic, The United States Vs. Billie Holiday. See the first look images for the upcoming drama starring Andra Day as the iconic Blues singer below.
The United States Vs. Billie Holiday First Look
Vanity Fair debuted the first-look photos at The United States Vs. Billie Holiday, a drama that follows the life and career of the legendary Blues singer, and Daniels’ first feature film in seven years. The film follows Holiday early in her career as she is “targeted by the Federal Department of Narcotics with an undercover sting operation led by black Federal Agent Jimmy Fletcher, with whom she had a tumultuous affair.”
The photos show that the film delves both into the glamorous side of Holiday’s life, as well as the more unseemly aspects including the singer’s drug issues, which became a target of investigation by the FBI after the political messaging in her music and her calls for integration earned the singer widespread attention.
The film is directed by Daniels, who has directed prestige dramas and biopics like The Paperpboy, The Butler, and the Oscar-winning film Precious, but has mostly been hanging about in TV in recent years, launching shows like Empire and Star. This will be Daniels’ return to feature filmmaking after 2013’s The Butler, and it looks to be the culmination of his music-forward TV projects combined with the prestige feature filmmaking the director is known for.
Daniels directs the film from a script by playwright Suzan-Lori Parks. Andra Day (Cars 3) makes her live-action feature film debut as Billie Holiday, in a role that will likely give the Grammy-nominated singer her big breakout, considering Daniels’ previous Oscar darling fare. Day is joined in the cast by Trevante Rhodes, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, and Garrett Hedlund.
The United States Vs. Billie Holiday is slated to hit theaters on February 12, 2021…for now.
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