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Day broke a 35-year dry spell for Black actresses for her work in The United States vs. Billie Holiday — a victory that defied predictions.

By Joey Nolfi
February 28, 2021 at 11:22 PM EST
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Andra Day has broken a 35-year dry spell for Black women at the Golden Globes.

At Sunday night's ceremony, the United States vs. Billie Holiday star became only the second Black woman in history to win the Golden Globe for Best Actress — Drama, the first to do so since Whoopi Goldberg claimed the prize in 1986 for her work in The Color Purple.

Day accepted her statuette for her debut film performance as the titular recording artist in the Lee Daniels-directed film, which follows Holiday as the federal government attempts to censor and frame her during the height of her career.

"[Thank you] to the amazing, transformative, dynamic Billie Holiday, who just transformed me with this role and with her presence and spirit," Day said through tears. "Thank you so much to everybody who was part of this incredible project."

The celebrated singer's victory marked her first career Golden Globe, as Day maneuvered a slight upset over presumed frontrunner Carey Mulligan (Promising Young Woman) among fellow drama nominees Vanessa Kirby (Pieces of a Woman), Viola Davis (Ma Rainey's Black Bottom), and Frances McDormand (Nomadland).

Across the last 10 Golden Globes ceremonies, six Best Actress — Drama winners have followed up their HFPA victory with an Academy Award for Best Actress, including last year's champion Renée Zellweger (Judy). That number falls to three when translating Best Actress — Comedy or Musical wins into Oscar gold over the same frame.

In addition to her acting, Day's contributions to the film's soundtrack were also recognized by the Golden Globes, as her original song "Tigress & Tweed" (made in collaboration with Raphael Saadiq) also scored a nomination at the 2021 ceremony.

"The gravel and the grit in [Holiday's] voice is so much a part of her character," Day previously told EW of preparing to tackle the singer's iconic chops, which included glugging gin and smoking cigarettes. "Anything I'd do to take care of my voice as a singer, I did the opposite."

The United States vs. Billie Holiday is now streaming on Hulu.

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