Following her major win at the Golden Globes, Andra Day is one to watch in Hollywood. At the lauded awards ceremony on March 1, the 36-year-old won Best Actress in a Drama Film for her performance in The United States vs. Billie Holiday. Not only is the honour a momentous occasion for the actress, but a win for the Black film community.
Day is only the second Black woman to win the category with Whoopi Goldberg being the first for The Color Purple in 1987. It is also Day’s debut into film.
Directed by Lee Daniels, The United States vs. Billie Holiday follows Jazz singer Billie Holiday as the Federal Bureau of Narcotics launches an undercover sting operation from 1947 until her death at age 44 in 1959. Her song “Strange Fruit” has since become a protest anthem. The actress was also nominated for Best Original Song with “Tigress and Tweed”.
In accepting the award, Day paid homage to the titular character.
“And to the amazing, transformative, dynamic Billie Holiday, who just transformed me with this role and with her presence and with her spirit.”
The Golden Globes has long been shrouded in criticism and controversy – but particularly in 2021 – after its nominations were announced. An investigation by the Los Angeles Times also brought to light that out of 87 members of the Hollywood Press Association, there is not one single Black person.
The sheer fact that it took 34 years for a second Black woman to be recognised as a winner in the category is both astounding and disappointing. During the evening’s ceremony, a number of talent spoke out against the HFPA including the event’s own hosts, calling for more inclusivity.
“We all know that awards shows are stupid,” said Tina Fey during the opening monologue. “They’re all a scam invented by Big Red Carpet, to sell more carpet. The point is, with stupid things, inclusivity is still important and there are no black members of the Hollywood Foreign Press. I realise HFPA, maybe you didn’t get the memo because your workplace is the back booth of a French McDonalds, but you’ve got to change that.”
The United States vs. Billie Holiday is streaming on Hulu now.
For rolling coverage of the 2021 Golden Globes, keep up with us here.