Andra Day, Trevante Rhodes & More To Star In Lee Daniels’ ‘The United States Vs. Billie Holiday’ Biopic

Hip Hop producer Salaam Remi will have a hand in selecting music for the forthcoming film.

(AllHipHop News) Lee Daniels (Precious, The Butler) is set to tackle the biography of Jazz legend Eleanora “Billie Holiday” Fagan (1915-1959). The creator of the Fox television drama Empire will direct and produce a movie about the “Strange Fruit” singer.

The United States vs. Billie Holiday will feature Grammy-nominated musician Andra Day as the famous Lady Day. Trevante Rhodes (Moonlight, Bird Box), Garrett Hedlund (Four BrothersMudbound), and Natasha Lyonne (American PieOrange Is the New Black) are part of the cast as well. 

“It is an extraordinary responsibility to tell the story of the iconic Billie Holiday. Her story is very personal to me and I hope to do justice when bringing to light this profound and complicated soul – a great artist and an unsung civil rights warrior,” states Daniels.

The United States vs. Billie Holiday is said to intimately examine the Rock & Roll Hall Of Famer’s struggles with addiction, fame, and heartbreaking love. While Holiday was helping to pioneer the Jazz genre, the Department of Narcotics targeted her for being outspoken about racism during the era of Jim Crow laws. A black federal agent named Jimmy Fletcher led the operation.

Holiday was eventually sentenced to a year in Alderson Federal Prison Camp in West Virginia for a drug possession conviction. She is quoted saying about the trial, “It was called ‘The United States of America versus Billie Holiday,’ and that’s just the way it felt.” 

Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks (Topdog/Underdog) penned The United States vs. Billie Holiday script. The biopic was partially inspired by Johann Hari’s non-fiction book Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs.

Christopher Gunning is coming out of retirement to create the movie’s original score. Nas and Amy Winehouse collaborator Salaam Remi will serve as Executive Music Producer. 

The United States vs. Billie Holiday is being produced by New Slate Ventures, Lee Daniels Entertainment, and Roth Kirschenbaum Films with Jordan Fudge, Lee Daniels, Pamela Oas Williams, and Tucker Tooley. Executive Producers include Hilary Shor, George Parra, Mark Bomback and Dennis Stratton.

The Supremes frontwoman Diana Ross starred in the 1972 movie Lady Sings the Blues which also covered the life of Billie Holiday. Director Sidney J. Furie’s motion picture earned five Academy Award nominations, including Best Actress (Ross), Best Original Song Score, and Best Original Screenplay.