The first trailer for acclaimed director Lee Daniels’ upcoming biopic The United States vs. Billie Holiday is here and Andra Day is absolutely breathtaking as the legendary bisexual jazz singer.
The film follows Holiday as she finds success, deals with addiction and personal struggles, and gets involved with the US Civil Rights movement all while being one of the greatest singers of all time. We see her triumphant on stage and in beautiful gowns designed by Prada, but we also see her at her lowest, struggling with addiction and spending time in prison.
Thankfully, the film seems to also touch on her bisexuality, as we see her spending time with actress Tallulah Bankhead, one of Holiday’s real life lovers, played by Natasha Lyonne. Bankhead was notably also portrayed in Netflix's Hollywood by Ryan Murphy.
In the trailer we see Bankhead and Holiday enter a jewelry store where Bankhead asks the person working at the counter, “don’t you know who this is?”
The trailer largely revolves around Holiday singing her classic “Strange Fruit,” a hauntingly beautiful song about the lynching of Black people. At the time, the US government saw the song as radical and potentially dangerous.
“Before there was a Civil Rights movement, there was Billie Holiday and 'Strange Fruit,’” Daniels said in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. “The government saw that song as a threat and she was a target. That's history and they keep it from us." The film also features Miss Lawrence as well as Moonlight actor Trevante Rhodes.
While previous movies about the jazz legend have been made, it will be exciting to see a gay director get to tell the story. Holiday’s queerness and involvement in the civil rights movement were important parts of her life and its long past due time we celebrate them.
The United States vs. Billie Holiday will debut in February on Hulu. Watch the trailer below.