"I feel now, after playing Billie, that I'm honoring her, and the strength that is femininity," the actress said in a new interview.

By Andrea Towers
May 12, 2021 at 11:58 AM EDT
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Andra Day's portrayal of Billie Holiday is a triumph on many levels — the biggest one, perhaps, being personal.

In a new interview with InStyle, the "Rise Up" singer opened up about taking on the challenge of portraying the famous singer in the Hulu film United States vs. Billie Holiday and revealed how she had to deal with her own similar struggles before she could fully immerse herself in the role.

"I didn't want any element of sexualization. I had come out of something in my own life — dealing with porn addiction, sex addiction. I knew I wanted all of that very much gone," Day told the magazine. "I feel now, after playing Billie, that I'm honoring her, and the strength that is femininity. I'm definitely in a healthier place to enjoy that because I'm outside of the addiction, if you will. So, yeah, it's been really fun, because it's been very new for me."

THE UNITED STATES VS. BILLIE HOLIDAY
Andra Day as Billie Holiday
| Credit: Takashi Seida/Paramount Pictures

Day's performance earned her a Golden Globe and Oscar nomination, and she made history with her Golden Globe win as the first Black woman to win a Best Actress award in 35 years. In addition to helping her face her demons, Day credits Holiday with helping her appreciate her worth as a Black woman in today's world.

"It was almost like she said, 'Sis, we're going to have to close this, because I have to survive.' She opened me up to valuing myself in a way that I hadn't fully before," Day told InStyle. She also noted that fusing so closely to the role made it harder for her to leave it behind. Now, however, she seems at peace with what Holiday has taught her.

"It's a little scary because you're on a precipice a little bit, and you're going, 'Okay, who am I? And who am I supposed to be? How am I supposed to be in this season?''

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