Andra Day details “wild journey” on how she transformed into Billie Holiday

Andra Day is detailing the extreme lengths she went through in order to complete her transformation into legendary jazz singer Billie Holiday.

Speaking Tuesday to W Magazine, Day, 36, revealed the “wild journey” she went on to prepare for the biopic The United States vs. Billie Holiday.

“There was the drastic weight loss. So I was originally 163 when I started. I got down to 124. I don’t necessarily recommend [it],” the Grammy nominee disclosed, noting how she had to reenact the years when Holiday’s health was in decline due to her addiction to heroin and alcohol.

“I didn’t want my body to look like a gym body of 2020, or 2019 at the time,” Day insisted.  “For me, it was important having a period body. The other thing is it made me very weak on set and slowed me down… When I had to do scenes where I was high on heroin, it really helped my physical body to nod in a way that I was just focusing on the emotion”

Day also revealed that, to further fall into character, she picked up some of Holiday’s vices.

“I started smoking cigarettes, which I don’t do. I don’t smoke anything. First of all, I have no frame of reference for myself smoking, so it makes me feel like her,” she recounted.

“I don’t drink alcohol, but I did drink a lot of gin and bourbon and all of that stuff, even though you’re really not supposed to do that,” continued Day, admitting she also forced herself to start swearing more.

“I didn’t want to be terrible, so I was like, ‘Whatever we have to do in this moment, for this role. Cut off all my hair,"” she smiled.

The United States vs. Billie Holiday premieres Friday on Hulu.

By Megan Stone
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