Lee Daniels and Andra Day on the hidden activist life of Billie Holiday

Automatic TRANSCRIPT

Good afternoon. I'm jonathan kaye. Part opinion writer for the washington post. Welcome to washington post. Live the united states versus. Billie holiday is the incredible story of the fbi's effort efforts to keep jazz great billie holiday from singing strange fruit. Her signature song about lynching director lee daniels presents a gripping drama that shows holiday in all her glory and tragedy. Andrew o.'day gives a stellar performance. So convincing you'd think you were watching lady day herself. That's why i am thrilled and honored to welcome lee daniels and andhra dade to washington post. Live thank you both very much for being here to see you again. I know it's been a very long time. Greats isn't a you again both of you. Congratulations on this film. The moment i saw it. I immediately sent a letter to y'all saying okay here. All your options. I need to talk to you about this film. Le- let me start. Start with you. Thanks so as we saw in the in the opening clip. The film tackles pretty much everything. Racism sexism addiction art abuse. And i'm wondering. How did you come to this project. And what influenced your approach to billie. Holiday's life susan lori parks the pulitzer winning a prize winning playwright Sent me this beautiful script that really depicts the government breaking her down coming for her coming for billie holiday and and really trying to cripple her. As an artist or singing strange fruit which was about lynching black people and that wasn't the understanding of billie holiday that i had. I thought that she was a troubled jazz singer. Got in trouble with the law. And you know the drugs and was fashionable. I did know that she was a political activist. And so and i you know i pride myself in being smart about our history and i thought to myself that i i don't do this. I don't know i had. I had to do it. And i thought also like how many other stories about our people have have. They have been hidden so yeah that was more threes in selena. And so right and i am going to latch onto what you just said before. Which was you thought of billie holiday as a jazz singer But you didn't really know that she was an activist. What what more did she do. Other than being defiant about trying to seeing strange fruit despite government opposition and government targeting. What other things that she do that made you realize that she's she's more than just lady day. What other than she did. Besides stand up to the government. I guess a lot to say i couldn't. I don't know that i could today. I don't think that i could. They told me lead. You can never make a movie again or coming for your mother. I'm going to come for your kids and you will. I'm like take it. But the thing about her strength and her being born in the into the world that she was being born in tipton board she didn't she didn't get to fly in you know what because she. She had nothing to lose by living in her constantly. And let me bring you in here. I saw your interview go ahead. Go ahead now. I just wanted to back off that too. I mean. I think what shows so brilliantly in the movies that apart what she did in standing up to the government was being human. She's black queer woman in the nineteen thirties. Forties and fifties and that living in an owning their in itself is is is defiance than accident that she's integrating audiences music one of the first artists a black woman to integrate carnegie hall. She wasn't the first but she is one of the first shoes audiences in athlete. People understand. This is sort of pre. They're real reinvigorated civil rights mellon so we wouldn't have our heroes would not have been as bold in as they were no thurgood. Marshall end the light on downs. You know rosa parks on down if it were not for her singing. Strange fruit in defiance of the government for not for setting off this alarm in the nation. In letting people know that it's that this was a really really understand. How much for june that emboldened the civil rights news we know today you know as as arrested in the so and him showing her in all her. Human element is is access. Defiance all in itself nelson young. I'm proud from did work.

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