I'm Oprah Winfrey, welcome to Super Soul Conversations, the podcast, I believe that one of the most valuable gifts you can give yourself is time taking time to be more fully present in your journey to become more inspired and connected to the deeper world around us. Starts right now. Ladies and gentlemen, Miss Billie Holiday. It is a portrayal like none other in her very first acting role.
Andra Day brilliantly brings to life the legendary singer Billie Holiday.
There aren't enough adjectives to describe this performance.
The Grammy nominated R&D singer and songwriter has transformed her voice, her body and her very essence in Lee Daniels new film, The United States vs. Billie Holiday whatsoever.
Singing Strange Fruit is a song about important things, you know. Things are going on in the country, think people know I care about those things, was my other songs just about love? Andra was born Cassandra. Monique Bayti in San Diego. He is a fruit.
For the Crows to pluck, she first heard the raspy, soulful and iconic sounds of Billie Holiday when she was 12 years old. Stage name Andra Day is an homage to Lady De.
Andra Day has toured the world with her music, performing at the White House twice and more recently for the historic inauguration parade for President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris and.
All day and hit song Rise Up from her Grammy nominated album Cheers to the Fall has more than one billion streams and has become the unofficial empowerment anthem of our time.
In a raw, harrowing and intimate performance, Andrea lays bare the untold story of one of the first voices of the civil rights movement. After we taped this interview, Andrew won the Golden Globe for best actress.
Here is straight. Hello, and today, welcome to Super, so, so excited you're in L.A., got to tell everybody. Yes, yes, I know this shot looks beautiful. You're in L.A. and I am in my garden in Maui.
And through technology, we're together here in my garden.
So but my spirit is definitely there with you. Least our desire to be my body is physically in L.A., but my mind, my heart and my spirit is definitely in Maui. So good. So good. I can't wait to actually have you here. And let's sit on the porch and talk about life right now, though, I am so excited for you because the buzz around Andred Day, the buzz for your first acting role and how you transformed and immersed yourself.
I was thinking about you this morning knowing we were going to have this conversation. I was thinking, I wonder, what is it like to be you right now? What does it feel like as you sit inside the center of yourself?
It's a great question.
And as you know, when you sort of start the merry go round of all of the press and everything that comes out, you actually have very little time to sort of think about, you know, what is in there. So I think I feel I mean, a range of emotions, gratitude mostly. You know, I feel a little bit like a spectator almost in all of this.
And I still feel a healthy dose of discomfort, nervousness when it's in going into any each and every sort of scenario.
But I feel. I feel aligned, if that makes sense, you know, if that is the word, I feel a wide range of emotions sort of swirl around it. But gratitude and alignment are the two things I think I feel most consistently.
Do you feel like your life has already changed with the portrayal that you offered to the world of Billie Holiday or is about to change?
I think my well, I will say the portrayal of Billie Holiday was extremely just paradigm shifting was life altering. So I'm changed so drastically with the role alone, had even had not all of this sort of happened on the heels of it. So I'm definitely I don't think anyone right is the same that they would be three years ago constantly growing. But she pushed me a lot further and a lot faster than I think I would have gone. And then, you know, on the heels of all of this, it's you know, it's I'm definitely busier.
I didn't sleep much before, but I sleep less now at home and with my team.
I've been with the same people for a very long time.
And I try to keep a really just a, you know, normalcy when I'm at home with the family, with my mother and my my cousins.
And so, you know, that part of it has not know. Also, my family is like incredibly grounding all the time. So they were like, we're so proud of you, but like, calm down, you know what I mean?
Just so let's just talk about this performance for a moment in this film. I've shared this with you before. I think it is beyond acting. It feels like. There was truly an incarnation of Billy, and when I finished watching the film, I called your director, Lee Daniels, and I said, Wow, I haven't seen anything like that.
Lee, I go digital, have her own heroine, digital, just everything. But, you know, right now I have her own heroine because I've never seen heroine in the eyes like, wow, like that. And then he said, no, not only were you not on heroin, that you never drank or smoked before this film and that it was a huge learning curve for you. Just learning to hold to hold a cigaret. So this incarnation, how does one begin the reincarnation of someone who is beloved and known but not known in this way?
What do you start on your knees? Do you say, Lord, help me?
Yes, literally. Literally. Literally, it was. And I thank you. I'm glad you said that, because that is and it's a reminder that that was really the first step for me. I consider myself a deeply spiritual person. So, yeah, I mean, I had to pray about even doing the role because I was actually trying to get out of doing the role. So it was actually prayer and reading a scripture about being called to do an act of great faith that made me say yes to the role.
And then upon preparing for it, I was like, OK, I believe truly, God, if you brought me here, then equip me. And so I asked for her spirit as well to I asked to receive her for her to be released into me.
And then Lee connected me with with Tasha Smith, who was my great acting coach, and Tom Jones was my dialect coach. And I did a ton of research as well because I'm I'm a researcher. I feel like I'm like a typical Capricorn. I need every shred of information, every documentary, every book, every interview, everything. And and they were like, the research is wonderful.
But you actually have to inform this character with a human being, a real human. And so they really taught me how to sort of pull out these emotions, pull out pain, pull out triumph, joy and from different places and memories and and experiences and to be very present and to fill her with my my actual life. And so, you know, you are seeing in an amalgamation of myself, of Billie Holiday, of and of Lee and my entire cast and everyone who bought into me.
Yeah, well, I read that you took on Billy's pain and trauma to how did that impact your real life, first of all?
I actually started auditioning for the role in Twenty Seventeen, so I started sort of dropping into her then, you know, on set it was no one ever called me Andrea. Everyone will call me lady or they would call me Billy or they I mean no one called me Andrea and and it's almost oddly enough I, I feel a little bit like I sort of forgot her.
Right. Forgot Andrea in the midst of all of this. So, yeah, I had to be in that space to feel it in my body and to really I had to believe it or I don't think I could have conveyed it to an audience.
Lee Daniels, the director, said about you that there was no acting, there was just being. And so did there come a point where saying the words were just you obviously had memorized the script, but saying the words came from a part of your being and the beings felt merged. So I think absolutely. I mean, I felt like her also. I have to say that being, you know, I'm so appreciative of the recognition, but I have to give so much credit to Lee.
You know, he his technique and, you know, as you've worked with him is he keeps you on your toes. And so he has such a brilliant ability to really bring human beings to life and to show them in all of their their sort of their facets and the multilayered human.
So it was it was a combination of just living as her and loving her.
I think that was the big part of it.
I actually enjoy I enjoyed it so deeply, maybe too much in certain respects, having her spirit in me. She opened me up. She liberated me in certain ways. And I believe in divine appointments. And I truly believe that this movie in this experience was one of those appointments and anointing, too. Yes, yes.
Yes, absolutely. I believe in divine providence. Yes. I also believe in preparation, meeting the moment of opportunity. Yes. And when that shows up, people says, oh, you're so lucky you got this role. You're lucky because you were prepared. Absolutely. For this moment of opportunity. Why do you think, as you've described it, this is a transformative experience? Why did this come to you and which day? Because I believe that everything that you do not just believe I've seen it, that when something shows up, it's been coming for a long time.
Yeah. When you are open to receive it, it means you were the one who was supposed to receive it. And at this particular time.
So why did. This film come to you at this time. Wow, that is actually a fantastic question that I have not been asked in the 50 million trillion interview.
Oh wow, that is such a great question. Why why did it come to me? I don't even know that I've ever even asked that or thought about it. I mean, I don't know. I think maybe it has to do with the season. And I think you sort of hit it on the head. Right, because I, I am a person of faith and I believe in faith. But I do believe that faith needs to meet works.
Right. And works needs to meet faith, I believe. And maybe it was to disrupt the plans I had for my life.
Right. I had a different idea of what my career was going to be in that period of my life here with my plans. This is what I was going to do with my album. And I think that that maybe was God's way of just saying, no, no, no, I have to sort of shake you loose of some things because she really freed me of a constant fear that I have I have real sort of deep seated feelings of inadequacy and unworthiness, you know, and that's and which is interesting because sort of faith and living in that same space with that.
And I really and that's actually to answer your question, why I believe maybe this role came for me was really to heal me and to shake me out of this idea of sort of self sabotaging, of feeling constantly unworthy, constantly inadequate, because I didn't have the right education or I don't feel like I'm smart enough.
You know, she freed a lot of things in me, I will say. Don't go anywhere. More to come after this short break. Here's another podcast that's a must listen now. Built to Last is a podcast by American Express that highlights the story's history and continued legacy of black owned small businesses that shape American culture. If you haven't already, check out the debut season of Built to Last and hear host Elaine Walter Roth explore how the black business leaders of our past have inspired today's black owned small businesses.
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That is because I think that, first of all, yes, the just the experience of her. But it's because she showed up. I think that's a huge part, is that Billy had these feelings. She had I'm sure she had fears. I mean, this woman's life was threatened every time she would get on stage and sing strange fruit. Right? I mean, she was targeted. She was harassed. She lost her father to Jim Crow. She was raped at a young age.
She was sent into a brothel by her mother. I mean, and then she was constantly abused by men. I mean, she had her fears and she was a performer. So she knew what it was like to get on a stage and to be scared and terrified that the audience would not love you and you would not have that beautiful exchange.
But she showed up. She showed up for us. She showed up. She sang strange fruit. She showed up.
She integrated audiences. She fought against the government. She showed up every single time.
And I think that being her, I was forced to show up. I had to show up for this role. I had to show up for Lee, for my cast, for what God was bringing me there to do for Billy Spirit. And so just her ability to to sort of almost throw caution to the wind and to be present and to show up was really, really just transformative for me. Believe she showed up in her own life. Did she show up for you?
Were there moments on set where you felt her?
Always, always. And she would always make me laugh. And she would always, you know, just most of the time Billy was just cussing everybody out all the time.
She was happy with what was going on, but she only expressed it in cussing, you know, and that's all she she had like a Ph.D. in it. And there were I had a dream actually, as well that and it was almost like sort of solidifying for me that she was OK with our spirits being entangled like this, you know, that she wanted it.
And maybe she was a part of the selection process. Right. And so it was a dream. And we were in we were in Cafe Society, but it didn't look like Cafe Society. And I was watching her perform it. I can't tell where I am in the audience. I'm watching her perform. And it's almost like a camera sort of panning around.
And I and then I, I can see myself sort of on stage singing as her, you know. And it was it was it was just a really I don't know was a brief moment, but it felt like a really validating moment. So we had so many conversations and I enjoyed her laughter. I enjoyed her. She would. One of the things I remembered was her repeating stories to me constantly about people in her past. Right.
Her manager or whatever. Oh, yeah.
It's a really I thought it was a very, very interesting experience talking about it like, you know, yes. She was writing stories to me.
I know people are probably like I said, I'm so crazy. Yeah. Yeah.
I'm nodding like, OK, so how about those intimate scenes you talked earlier about worthiness and now you got to, like, reveal your naked self, your raw self, your naked self, and you went all the way there.
What help you get there? Once I read that scripture and I had a piece about doing this role, you know, my father always reminds me you're either in or you're out. You know, there is never an in between. There's not a gray area. Don't float, you know what I mean? Like, be fluid, but don't float. And so my mother, the same thing. If you have peace about it, move forward in it, commit to it.
And so that was a huge part of it. It was like, I can't ride the line here. I can't say I'm in for some of this. I'm in for you know, I'm in.
But you could only see this. Yeah. Yeah, exactly what he did me. He did me right. And he asked me in the beginning was very courteous and just asked if I was OK with nudity. And I told him not typically but if it is. But it is the truth. And Billie Holiday story and I don't want to tell her story without nudity, without cursing, without drugs, without it. This is her life.
And I don't want to try and boil down her story to a G rated version of her life.
You know, this is this is a part of who she was and sexuality because there was nothing dogmatic about her that she made anyway.
And so there was like not that big.
And so and it was one of those things that sexuality was a huge part of who she was. You know, she grew up in a brothel again. She was raped at a young age. She had, you know, relationships with men, beautiful relationships with women.
So you can't not tell that part of her. Yes. And I read that you lost, what, thirty nine forty pounds. How did it feel to transform your body? Is that what you did? Yes.
I mean, that's the first thing we started because we knew we wanted. I mean, that's another part about Billie Holiday that people don't know. I think people will see pictures of her when she's has more weight on her when she was healthier, but her weight fluctuated drastically. And there would be a lot lot of moments when she was using where she would be sort of skin and bones and and so the weight was definitely something we knew we wanted to to to do because I was you know, I was a well, actually, when I first started losing weight, I was one hundred and sixty three pounds.
But before that I was I was juicing 170 know.
So but but yeah, that was one of the first things we did.
And I knew with the time that we had, I wanted to lose it healthily at first.
And but I always knew from the beginning that once we got closer to filming, I would just I do not recommend it or, you know, whatever you have peace about. But I did begin to starve myself, you know, and I did that because I wanted to slow myself down.
You know, obviously, you see, I'm very fast and Billie Holiday is sort of molasses slow and that's what cigarets and kind of starvation and alcohol.
And that really slowed me down in a very important way for the character. And then the other thing was, I wanted to say starve yourself.
Does it mean you're only drinking shakes or you drink water or drinking water? I would drink juices sometimes here and there and have, you know, tuna on set. I would have like grapes and and like nuts, you know, just to give me enough fuel to go. And then and then in between, I would have like a bigger meal, you know what I mean? Like some type of meat and type of something. But the other part of it was, you know, I didn't want to walk on the set and like, all of a sudden it's nineteen forty seven.
Billie Holiday has an eight pack. It turns out she got a membership, a twenty four hour fitness, and now she's just working it out, you know.
So I was very like, I want a pirrie, I want everybody I want and not just a regular period body but a period body of a woman who looks like she would have been using drugs, you know, drinking a lot of alcohol had a very hard life, you know.
And so I wanted there to be loose skin, so. Is it true you didn't drink before, had you ever drank, but when I was like twenty and drinking was never my thing and so it was very easy to give drinking up.
Never done drugs nor. OK, so no drinking, no doing drugs, no smoking, no no guessing, and now no sex. That was the other thing as well, too. I made I made a commitment personally to be abstinent like almost seven years now, too. So it's just it is very different. Her life was very different. Her experience. Yeah. Yeah. Oh, wow.
No sex in you. You know, it's so funny. I tell people that, like, wow, how did you do it? I was like, well, I wasn't a virgin. I mean, I have my you know, you just like getting back on a bike, you know what I mean?
So but OK. So this is what I want to know. Andrew, I know that you went and visited addicts. Yes. And you learn how to tie off. I heard you say that. But how do you get the drug look in your eyes? How did you do that?
Just physiologically speaking, the cigarets and the alcohol for me slowed me down and put me I have no frame of reference for what Andra is like smoking a cigaret, you know. I mean, and so if I were to walk outside right now and smoke a cigaret, I feel like it is way too it's visceral, you know what I mean?
And that and it kind of my brain is very much not used to it. It affects me. It really, really affects me. And the other part of it is, is, you know, understanding addiction.
You know, if you understand addiction as a sickness, as an illness, as a means to survive and to get well, not a means to get high.
It's not just like, oh, well, we're having fun. You know, it's really a means to survive and to get healthy and to. Disappear to you from your trauma, from your life, from the pressures of of of those things, and so it was understanding addiction that we all cope and we are all addicts.
It just manifests differently in our lives, some more healthy, some less healthy. And it was really understanding that. And then living in that trauma, in that pain and the need to get rid of it was that's what I needed to understand, more so than the high.
Now I know more so than the high. Now I know you spent time with addicts preparing for the role that experience of being with addicts did was.
So I would actually give you an example, because I owe this kid so much, because I owe these kids so much.
And and I just want to share because just the sober living community is just such a beautiful communities want to just support. So really, what I got from them more than anything was the need. And this idea, I think we think the need the need is the reason it will make you steal and destroy relationships for this and end it with heroin addicts specifically.
They're actually once you use one time, you're not getting high anymore.
You're just getting well. And they were very clear with me about that. And actually, physically speaking, you're staving off dope sickness. And if you add which dope sickness can actually kill you. And so it's your actual survival that is wrapped up in this drug, your your ability to.
Oh, that's so interesting. Right there. That's it. Once once you once you get high the first time, the second time isn't about getting high, it's about staving off the sickness that you're going to feel from your body and it goes back to normal.
Yes, absolutely. Yeah. And I have never heard really revelatory for me sitting and speaking with them because it's now they have to stave off the physical pain that will that will happen to their body. And the emotional trauma all comes flooding back at the same time. So it's like you almost do anything to survive and to get rid of that that feeling. And, you know, they they showed me that your brain starts to feel the the effects of heroin when it just knows that it's going to get heroin.
And I thought that was so, so, so powerful.
And so, yeah, this young kid was teaching me how to type. He was watching me. So I was doing everything. And I just kept going through the exercise and tying off and using the bigger needles that they would have used that Billy would have used in the forties.
And I look up at him and he is now sweating and his pupils are dilated and he's not responding sort of to what it is that we're saying. And I was terrified for him. I asked the man that was with him. I said, is this OK for him? Like, is he good? He said, trust me, I do this all the time. This is a huge step of overcoming in his in his sobriety because he was in the process of recovery.
He was in the process of recovery, recovery.
And then just watching you tie off is causing him to go in.
When I tell you his focus that we couldn't even shake him out of his focus and the look in his eyes, it gave me everything I needed to know about the need and the moment before and doing that. And so I am so grateful to him because he sacrificed a lot. Yeah.
And then just hearing you say this gives me an understanding of perhaps why we have such a huge opioid problem in this country.
I mean, and why addiction. It cannot be resolved the way we're trying to do it. Yes. You can't punish addicts, put people in jail when people are giving themselves the drug in order to make themselves very well.
Yeah, I you know, I thought that's that that's so key.
And I actually think that's what most people think when they look at people who are homeless. They did it to themselves. They're on the streets because they're addicts down the street. Sixty five percent of people on the streets are actually they're dealing with mental illness, you know, and so it's trying to manage mental illness.
And then obviously drugs becomes a part of that. And so in that in and of itself is a disease. And so, you know, and one of the things Billy says in the movie so beautifully and she really said this because she thought this, she said, I need help, not jail time.
We're sick. You know, we're we're not well.
And and yes, when she's walking into the courthouse, you should feel ashamed. You stay in trouble with the law this holiday. But you want to set an example for your race like Ella Fitzgerald and Marian Anderson. The people are hard on me and my own race. I need help, not jail time. I was talking to Johann Hari, who wrote the book that the script was based on, and one of the things he was saying is that, you know, you all have avenged her, that there is.
For the first time, her spirit can rest because the story has been told in such a way that she is avenged. Do you feel that?
Yeah, I think I have to say honestly now. Yes, I do.
As a fan of Billie Holiday's, it is so satisfying for me to not only to have read the script and to have played her, but to see people. I think what's so beautiful about the other side of this and going through all of this press for the movie and all this is I am seeing so many people go, wait a minute, I didn't know this about Billie Holiday.
Wait, let me look this up. Yeah. You know, and I and I think that's what God wanted. I think he wanted her story told. She's very much loved and she's a fighter and a hero. So I do believe that now.
Yes. And often I think prior to this portrayal, we thought of her as weak as not being able to stand up for herself and as a victim of drugs of men. And but you show us her indomitable strength. Not an easy feat. Thank you. Not an easy feat. More of this conversation in just a moment. Support for this episode comes from. Are you ready to earn your degree but not a university that works with your schedule at UT, their programs were built to be flexible.
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Focused, complex portrayals I have ever seen, period, by anyone of any party.
OK, thank you so much. No, that is that mean. Well, first of all, that means the world coming from you because the Color Purple was a huge influence for me on set.
So just studying every little nuance, every detail about the film, I will say I think, first of all, two words, Lee Daniels and I.
And I cannot stress that enough.
I can't you know, he was said in the beginning, he was so, so, so clear. He said, I do not want her to be a victim. You could tell that he was slighted, that he was mad.
He was mad that they made her look like this week sort of victim.
And he believed it for most of his life, you know, until sixty years old.
And so he was so adamant and it almost into the point actually, he was so adamant about her not being a victim that once he looked back at it, he was like, oh, she's maybe a little too hard. And, you know, and so we did some, like, pick up shots in order to kind of get more vulnerability.
But I think it was imperative that we showed her that way, because that was a part of the false narrative that the government was spinning.
Was that one of the things I hear that really kills me is when I hear people say that she was a wasted life wasted, you know, I mean and then the other thing that really gets me is when people say she was a complicated figure and I go, why?
I know that? Well, because she did drugs and she did OK. But, you know, what?
Was she a complicated figure or were her circumstances complicated and impossible? Why?
How was it? Let's start with 10 years old in the Bronx or let's start with racist and then sent to a reform school for girls for being raped. You know, that's complicated, you know. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Blame game for it. You know what? It's so interesting. I'm working with this psychiatrist now. We're doing this book together called What Happened to You? Because it's understood now by a lot of scientists that it's not when you see kids misbehaving in school or when their behavioral disorders or when people become dysfunctional and people say, what's wrong with that guy?
What's what's wrong with that kid? What's the matter?
And kids who are many of them put in juvenile delinquency homes, the question should be asked not what's wrong with that kid, but what happened to that kid? Because what happened when you asked the question, first of all, what happened doesn't come from such a place of judgment.
And it allows you to see the thread of the narrative that put the person in the seat that they're in.
And at that moment and I think that is that is exactly what you all have done with Billie Holiday here, because for the first time, we get to see behind everything that caused her to be.
She is. Mm. That's beautiful.
How did you find Billy's unique singing voice? I mean, that is the thing I would think going in where you were going.
OK, two questions going in. What was your biggest fear about taking on the role?
I mean, being terrible, I can't even I wish I was like a deeper thing. It was so I did not want to suck. And that is like really like I was so terrified.
And then and I think layered underneath that was because I love her so much. I wanted her story told. I love her. I love her story. I love her fight.
And I just thought I would dishonor her. The idea of dishonoring her was like, horrific to me, you know what I mean?
I did not want to be bad. And that was the main thing.
I heard you describe it like a scroll and you do this. Yes, absolutely. Because I think her voice is very much another character in another person.
And I look at her voice as a as a scroll and I say on that scroll is written every betrayal, every hit, every time she slammed heroine and she dragged the cigaret. She smoked every time she stood up to the police and stood up to the government. Every time she integrated an audience and had to fight for that. Every time she sang Strange Fruit in defiance of the government, every suitor that came calling when she was in the brothel, everything is written on her voice.
And so it was like to not have her voice in. There would almost be like to cut Billie Holiday in half and only show one half of her. You know, you can't do it without the sound in the tone of her voice, so. Black bodies swinging. In the southern breeze, strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.
What do you want people to feel when they hear you sing as Billy Strange Fruit?
Well, first of all, I want them to feel gratitude for her and towards her. You know, I want them to say thank you to her. I want them to to realize that this was truly the great godmother of the civil rights movement. She did this on her own. She reinvigorated the civil rights movement, you know, as we know it today, along with the death of Emmett Till by singing the song about lynching in America. And so I want them to say thank you to her.
The other thing I want them to do is to you know, I don't want them to enjoy it now, having played her and being on the other side. And while I was on set, the idea of people going, oh, my God, that was so beautiful. I love that it kills me, you know, because I just am like, this is not a beautiful song.
It is an ugly song. And she the song is about the blood on the leaves, blood at the root, the twisted mouth and the bulging eyes and the scent, the smell of burning flesh.
It's horrific pastoral scenes of the garments of the Bungeni and the twisted mind.
And so I want them to be motivated, I want them to be sort of mobilized, I want people to to not enjoy the song, I want them to say this is ugly and I need to find out why it's so ugly and why it's so necessary and why it's so important and to do something about it. I want people to be active when they listen to it.
You know, the character, the reporter who she's doing the interview with as the movie began says, why couldn't you just say, hey, what can I say?
I love your little character.
Why don't you stop singing a damn song, wouldn't your life be easier if you just behaved? I love it.
Why couldn't you just say just say there was nothing in her spirit that wanted to behave? Yes.
I mean, here's the thing. I don't think there was anything in her spirit that wanted to behave.
And I don't think there was anything in her spirit that wanted to do or to misbehave or to be, you know, she was just being and she was being friendly.
And so, you know, this idea that what is what is good behavior even look like for a black woman, according to, you know, a white man at that time or according to, you know, a man or to anybody? You know, there's so much such conflicting ideas and it's sort of like black women have so historically not been allowed to be human and to to to to live in all of those layers, to be layered human beings.
And we've seen that represented even in cinema, in movies and music, you know, either just do nothing and be this or be hypersexual. And, you know, so it's I love that it touched on the expectations of black women by society and by even people in our lives and and and why is she not allowed to be a human the way everyone else is allowed to be?
So I love that they brought that up in the film.
Let me ask you this. You started out talking about, you know, it feels like you're in a whirlwind, like it's just one thing after another surrounding your first acting performance. Do you think about being nominated?
Where does that sit in the gee, I really want it to happen? Or are you just, like, going with the flow?
I am definitely more going with the flow. I will say that I am I want the recognition for the movie. I want it for Billy. I want it for the cast. I want it for Lee. I want it for Susan, Lori Parks and her amazing script and every single one of my cast members. I can't say their names all the time, you know, from lead down to, you know, Travanti and Tyler James Williams, Divine Miss Lawrence Garrick's Rob, you know, but I make my gift for sure was was Lee and was Billy and was my cast.
And this set and this experience definitely.
Well, I read that you learned as a young woman the power of surrender, and that one of the my favorite hymns is I surrender all. It's been a powerful force in my life. And how are you surrendering to this change in your life?
That's that's actually a great a great question. And I think I have just recently gotten to a place of. Clarity, you know what I mean, and understanding I was actually just reading was funny, I was I do devotion and that's a huge part of it. So I make sure to start my days with with prayer and with devotion, with reading scripture, with meditating and and just to remember that no matter how things are shifting under me or how unsettled I feel and trying to discover who I am because I don't know I still don't know who I am in this season yet.
But the one thing I do know is that I am loved and I mean I am loved and that and that I am a lover of God and of people. And that from that sort of stems everything else. I was reading a scripture and I was bawling because it was actually the night before they announced the Golden Globe nominations.
And God was reminded me, said, you are in Shushan, this Citadel of Islam next to the river. Ulli and I remember just diving through the layers of that. And it really means you're in a place of purity, a place of clarity in a citadel, the fortified place, you know. And so because I was like, how will I kind of survive through this? And it was a reminder that you are in a place of purity and clarity in in the fortified, protected place and you're elevated.
That's what Islam means, that you're being shown on a lamp stand right now and just trust and to be loved, allow yourself to be loved in this moment.
What Andra Day, it is just a delight to share in this joyous moment with you.
I can't there are no words. I just want to ask a couple of super soul questions, OK? Because this is where we talk about spirit stuff. OK, what did you recognize in yourself or in your life that you needed to change during the pandemic? As simple as it sounds, I think. Keeping my word to myself, you know, I think that that that is that is sort of I mean, I'm never good with time, so that's always an issue.
But I I try to consider myself like an honest person and I try to, you know, but I but I will be the first person that I will sort of break my word with, you know, say that I'll do this thing and then I don't do it. And I hate I know I'm prone to doing that.
And so it's it's something that I wanted to definitely break in the pandemic, which I probably didn't fully do. But I was making strides, I think, towards trying to get better at that.
During the pandemic, what did you learn you could live without?
What did I learn I could live without? Oh, that's a good question. What did I learn? I could live without. I learned. I love that we really think about it. It just made me, you know, obviously we had to stay home because we were in a quarantine and I felt like sometimes I get very, very restless and I'm like, OK, I need to get out and you have to go see something I need. But I realize sometimes I'm doing that.
And actually what blesses me more is if I'm just home and I'm just present and I'm in that space. So I realized I didn't need to go out to sort of find peace or to find, you know, I could be home and really be present and get that from from people and from my family.
So do you ever play rise up, rise up for yourself? I don't I think there's nothing that would pull me out of my own personal meditation, like rise up. I would be like, OK, I turn myself off.
No, I use it to rise up. I think my mom would literally walk in and laugh her ass off at me, like, really?
Well, God bless you in that breathtaking first performance. Thank you. But I think you've only just begun. United States versus Billie Holiday streaming now only on Hulu. Everybody, it's a must see. It is a must see.
Thank you. Thank you so much. God bless you. Thank you. God bless you. All right. Enjoy the ride, girl. Thank you. Stay present. Stay present for yourselves. Yes. Yes.
I'm Oprah Winfrey and you've been listening to Super Soul Conversations, the podcast. You can follow Super Soul on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. If you haven't yet, go to Apple podcast and subscribe rate and review this podcast. Join me next week for another super soul conversation. Thank you for listening.