Andra Day, who was recognized at the Golden Globes on Sunday for her portrayal of music legend Billie Holiday, became the second Black woman ever to win the award for best actress in a motion picture.
The celebrated singer made her acting debut when she starred in the award-winning film, The United States vs. Billie Holiday, HuffPost reported. But the actress is already following the footsteps of Whoopi Goldberg, who won the same award for her performance in The Color Purple in 1985.
Andra Day becomes the second Black winner of the Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama with ‘The United States vs. Billie Holiday’
— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) March 1, 2021
The United States vs. Billie Holiday, directed by Lee Daniels and currently streaming on Hulu, tells the story of the legendary musician and her battle against the federal government, who exploited the icon’s drug addiction to promote the misguided war on drugs.
Acknowledging her fellow nominees while virtually accepting the award, Day said she was “in the presence of giants.” The nominees included Viola Davis for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Vanessa Kirby for Pieces of a Woman, Frances McDormand for Nomadland and Carey Mulligan for Promising Young Woman.
Day also paid tribute to Holiday, describing her as a transformative and dynamic icon.
“The thing I take from Billie more than anything is the strength of a Black woman,” she said.
Day’s historic achievement comes in a time where the Golden Globes’ voting body, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), is facing criticism for lack of diversity. According to The Hollywood Reporter, several stars have been spearheading the #TimesUpGlobes protest campaign, noting the lack of Black HFPA members among the 87 total voters.
“We understand that we need to bring in Black members, as well as members from other underrepresented backgrounds, and we will immediately work to implement an action plan to achieve these goals as soon as possible,” the HFPA said in a statement.
After her historic win, Day told reporters that was she going to “eat everything” in celebration, Yahoo Entertainment reported.
“I’ve been on a diet for three years for this movie role, to drop the weight and everything, so there’s cake outside,” she said. “We just got to eat so much food. We’re very hungry. Me, I’m very hungry.”
The star said she was smoking and drinking for a long time to prepare her body for the movie role.
“I put my family through it; I put myself through it,” Day said. “I went from 163 pounds to 124 pounds. I would talk like her and I don’t drink or smoke, but I started smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol.”
Day’s wish now is to see recognition for many more Black stars.
“To know that the last person who won this award was Whoopi Goldberg in The Color Purple is so not representative of how many Black women’s stories have been told sensationally and need to be told by the amazing talented actresses who do this,” she said.