First trailer lands for Billie Holiday biopic with Bird Box and Russian Doll stars

Susannah Alexander
·2-min read
Photo credit: eOne UK
Photo credit: eOne UK

From Digital Spy

The first trailer for new Billie Holiday biopic The United States vs Billie Holiday, starring Bird Box's Trevante Rhodes and Russian Doll and Orange is the New Black actress Natasha Lyonne, has landed and it promises to be a moving watch.

The film tells the story of the life and career of iconic singer Billie Holiday, who is considered one of the greatest jazz and swing musicians of all time. Although she was adored by fans across the globe and had commercial success during the 1930s and 40s, her career ran into trouble in the late 1940s.

After being arrested in her New York apartment for possession of narcotics in 1947, she stood trial in a case called 'The United States of America vs Billie Holiday'. Her career soon became caught up in the American 'war on drugs', while her moving song 'Strange Fruit' – a protest against the lynching of Black Americans – became an integral part of her legacy.

Photo credit: eOne UK
Photo credit: eOne UK

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The trailer shows Holiday (played by Grammy nominee Andra Day) greeting a sold-out crowd at a concert and being hailed as "the voice of our people".

She is later shown speaking about the importance of 'Strange Fruit', saying: "It's a song about important things you know – things that are going on in the country", before a group of white men meet in a Senate Chamber and decide that the singer's lyrics are "a starting gun for the so-called civil rights movement".

Although many people try to stop Holiday from performing 'Strange Fruit', she refuses to give in, but her brave defiance leads to authorities trying to halt her career.

The trailer ends on a powerful note as Holiday announces: "You think I'm going to stop singing that song? Your grandkids will be singing 'Strange Fruit'."

Photo credit: eOne UK
Photo credit: eOne UK

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The movie also stars Tron: Legacy's Garrett Hedlund, Dolemite Is My Name's Da'Vine Joy Randolph, The Hunger Games star Evan Ross and Can You Ever Forgive Me? actor Erik LaRay Harvey and is directed by Lee Daniels, who produced the Oscar-winning Monster's Ball and also co-created Empire.

The screenplay is written by Suzan-Lori Parks, who won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for her play Topdog/Underdog.

The United States vs Billie Holiday will be released on February 26 on Hulu in the US. It is due for release on March 12 in the UK.

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