Andra Day is still recovering from her turn as Billie Holiday after taking a deep dive into the jazz and blues singer's life.
A huge fan of the "Strange Fruit" icon, Day won over director Lee Daniels at her audition with passion and landed her first acting role in the process, but she admits her film debut in "The United States vs. Billie Holiday" has taken its toll on her.
"There's still a lot that I am working out in me from playing Billie," Andra explains in an interview obtained by Just Jared. "She gets in, you know what I mean? She gets ahold."
"It was a commitment. I think it's one I'm recovering from still. I'd never smoked cigarettes before. Just starting out smoking, I was practising with my acting coach... I was like, 'I want some of your American Spirits.' That first day I was drinking vodka and smoking cigarettes, and I went home and threw up, like, five times!"
In a conversation for Interview Magazine Andra talked about how important understanding the addiction of Billie Holiday's to her role. “I don’t want to just look like a convincing heroin addict. I want to know why. What makes me need to slam heroin? What makes me, without even thinking, pick up a cigarette and light up? I sat with a lot of heroin addicts. I sat with recovering addicts, and I sat with this really, really wonderful man who owns a rehab center, who’s been clean and sober for 25 years. And so, I wanted to know, “When you need to score, what is that? When you’ve actually scored and you’re cooking, what’s that focus like?” It’s like somebody saying to you, “I have one pill that would make every mistake you’ve made—every loss, every tragedy, every ounce of guilt and shame, every time you’ve been sexually abused or raped, or every time you’ve felt less-than, the racism, the pain of your people being lynched—go away. When you look at it like that, you’re like, “Well, fuck, why wouldn’t I take that?” We take medicine for our physical pain, but a drug that can make all of your emotional pain go away and make you feel good from head to toe, inside and out, think about how hard that pain hits when you come down. They helped me to understand that you’re only getting high, really, the first time. It’s very rare you’ll ever have that again. Most of the time, you’re just trying to stave off dope sickness. You’re trying to put the battery in your back to be able to function and hopefully not die.
And that smoking habit has stuck with the singer, who explains, "I finished the last pick-up shots last year, but what I expected to be a four, five, or six-month habit ended up turning into about a year and a half."
Day also "drank a lot of gin and bourbon" to get into the spirit of Billie, who died of complications from cirrhosis caused by alcohol abuse.
"I hadn't drank in so long, and it was never really a big part of my life, even when I did when I was younger," she adds.