Andra Day
Credit: Chris Pizzello-Pool/Getty Images

Please note: The information in this article could potentially be triggering to those suffering with eating disorders. If you need help please call Australia’s national eating disorder hotline, Butterfly Foundation, on 1800 33 4673. For those in the U.S., call the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) on (800) 931-2237.

Andra Day was thrust into stardom after becoming the second Black woman to win a Golden Globe for Best Actress for her role in The United States vs Billie Holiday. While at first glance, the role was the most perfect alignment for the actress, Day has since revealed she needed to starve herself while filming – and warned against doing it in the real world.

Speaking to Shape Magazine, the 36-year-old said she lost 18 kilos to “transform” into the iconic singer. Her only advice in any other circumstance is “don’t”.

“For the role, I couldn’t look like I had been eating healthfully and exercising,” Day explained. “Even though Billie was stunning, hers was a 1940s woman’s body that had been ravaged by drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, staying out late, and not taking care. So I had to look more dehydrated and gaunt.”

“I got to a point where I was starting to starve myself. I’d starve myself, binge eat a little, then starve myself, then binge,” she added. “I’ve had people hit me up and say, ‘How did you lose the weight?’ I’m like, ‘Don’t do it this way.’ It doesn’t give you the brain clarity. It’s very disorienting. It makes you sleepy and confused.”

While there is always danger in extreme dieting, Day says she easily returned to a normal routine which she says helps her mental clarity. “Once I started to get back to a healthier state, it felt good on my system,” she said. “Now, I’m enjoying the way my body feels, my mobility, all that stuff. I want to keep running, keep working with weights, and keep eating well — and also having random Cheetos moments.”

The actress continued, “When I exercise, I have more clarity in my thoughts and in the way I function throughout the day. I feel more oriented. Working out helps me feel more capable. It helps me make better decisions. I often feel like brain fog is an issue for me, but when I’m working out regularly and drinking more water, my head feels clearer, truly. It’s an exciting feeling.”

In accepting the Golden Globe in February for her performance, she did note that there was a positive aspect to the transformation. “And to the amazing, transformative, dynamic Billie Holiday, who just transformed me with this role and with her presence and with her spirit,” she said in her speech.