The United States vs. Billie Holiday to star Andra Day, Trevante Rhodes & more
Last year it was announced that Oscar-nominated director Lee Daniels (Precious, The Butler, Empire) was set to direct a biopic of iconic singer Billie Holiday, titled The United States vs. Billie Holiday, and it has now been revealed that multiple Grammy and NAACP Image Award nominee Andra Day (Marshall) will star as the legendary jazz singer. Trevante Rhodes (Moonlight, Bird Box), Garrett Hedlund (Triple Frontier, Mudbound), and Emmy nominee Natasha Lyonne (Orange Is the New Black, Russian Doll) have also joined the cast.
The legendary Billie Holiday, one of the greatest jazz musicians of all time, spent much of her career being adored by fans across the globe, all while the Federal Department of Narcotics targeted her with an undercover sting operation led by black Federal Agent Jimmy Fletcher, with whom she had a tumultuous affair. Inspired by her life story, The United States vs. Billie Holiday intimately examines her struggles with addiction, fame and heartbreaking love.
The film is inspired by the critically acclaimed and widely beloved 2015 New York Time’s bestseller Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs written by Johann Hari. Chasing the Scream is a non-fiction examination of the history and impact of drug criminalization, otherwise known as “The War on Drugs.”
“It is an extraordinary responsibility to tell the story of the iconic Billie Holiday. Her story is very personal to me and I hope to do justice when bringing to light this profound and complicated soul — a great artist and an unsung civil rights warrior,” said Daniels.
The script is written by Pulitzer Prize-winner Suzan-Lori Parks (Topdog/Underdog, Native Son, Their Eyes Were Watching God). Production on the biopic will begin in early October in Montreal.
The film is being produced by New Slate Ventures, Lee Daniels Entertainment, and Roth Kirschenbaum Films with Jordan Fudge, Daniels, Pamela Oas Williams, and Tucker Tooley. Executive producers include Hilary Shor, George Parra, Mark Bomback and Dennis Stratton. BAFTA-nominated composer Christopher Gunning will come out of retirement to design the original score, while Grammy Nominated Salaam Remi is on board as Executive Music Producer.
(Photo by Amy Sussman/Bryan Bedder via Getty Images)