Directed and produced by Lee Daniels (Monster’s Ball, Precious, The Butler), The United States vs. Billie Holiday follows the traumatic life of the fearless jazz singer as she fights against racism and for civil rights, navigates love while succumbing to her alcohol and drug addiction. But the focus of the film revolves around the artists’ persecution by the U.S. government over her performance of the poetic song about the horrors of lynching, “Strange Fruit.”
In an interview with V magazine, Day and Daniels shared how they hope the insightful film will impact viewers.
“I hope this is a revelation. First of all, telling Black women’s stories is huge for me,” shared the budding actress. “One of the biggest things is I wanted people to get to know her. We have to understand that a lot of [Black people’s] stories have been intentionally kept from people, and that the history we hear is not accurate.
“I want this to tell the truth of our narrative. I want it to be a revelation like, ‘Okay, apparently I’ve been lied to about a lot of these stories.’”
Daniels added: When people walk away from this film, I want them to feel the way I felt making it. I looked at the way she stood up to the government, and it just made me think, “[I want to] get people to grow, to not be afraid of the system.” The system is flawed. It was never meant for Black people, for us. I think [Billie] understood that and was able to speak about it.
The United States vs. Billie Holiday—co-starring Tyler James Williams, Trevante Rhodes, Miss Lawrence, Evan Ross, and more— premieres on February 26, 2021, on Hulu.