Music Updates

Andra Day Lost 40 Pounds, Smoked Cigarettes & Drank Hard Liquor to Portray Billie Holiday

The 36-year-old Grammy-nominated singer has already snagged two Golden Globe nominations this year for best performance by an actress in a motion picture (drama) and best song in a motion picture for her performance of “Tigress & Tweed.” She earned similar nods for the 2021 Critics Choice Awards, including best actress and best song. But as “nerve-racking” as it was to consistently emulate the voice of one of her idols, she went through much more rigorous training to physically stay in character.

“I started smoking cigarettes, which I don’t do. I don’t smoke anything. First of all, I have no frame of reference for myself smoking, so it makes me feel like her. It slows me down. She’s like molasses — I’m very fast. And when I had to do scenes where I was high on heroin, it really helped my physical body to nod in a way that I was just focusing on the emotion,” Day continued. “And I don’t drink alcohol, but I did drink a lot of gin and bourbon and all of that stuff, even though you’re really not supposed to do that.”

Day told W Magazine that she also had to pick up cursing. Even though it completely took her out of her element, she was more than willing to play the part right.

“Look, I was desperate. I didn’t want to be terrible, so I was like, ‘Whatever we have to do in this moment, for this role. Cut off all my hair,'” she said.

Watch her W Magazine video interview below.

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