The 36-year-old singer discussed her “amazing” experience filming The United States vs. Billie Holiday during Thursday’s episode of Good Morning America.
Day plays Holiday, a celebrated jazz singer, in the upcoming biopic. The film is based on the Johann Hari book “Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs” and centers on the Federal Bureau of Narcotics’ undercover sting operation against Holiday.
“The United States vs. Billie Holiday” is written by Suzan-Lori Parks and directed by Lee Daniels. The movie co-stars Trevante Rhodes, Natasha Lyonne and Garrett Hedlund.
On GMA, Day said she hasn’t watched the completed film in order to preserve her experience.
“My experience with Lee Daniels, with Suzan-Lori Parks, with Trevante, with Garrett, with Tyler [James Williams], Da’Vine [Joy Randolph], Miss Lawrence, Natasha, Melvin [Gregg], Tone [Bell] … and with the entire production was paradigm-shifting and one of the most amazing experiences of my life,” the actress said.
I will say because I’m scared, but I think the real reason is, it feels like watching the film is watching the culmination of everything we poured into her, and my experience with her was so amazing,” she added. “I love her spirit being, sort of our spirits co-mingling, and it just seems like watching the film … that’s the chapter closed.”
Day said she is a longtime fan of Holiday but found a new appreciation for the singer during production.
“I did know about the government going after her for singing ‘Strange Fruit,’ and for integrating audiences. And I was aware that she really was the early godmother of the civil rights movement,” the actress said.
“It made me love her, it made my love for her even deeper, because they were very broad shoulders that she was carrying,” she added.
Day performed “Tigress and Tweed,” her original song for the film, on GMA.
Day previously said at a Sundance Film Festival panel that she turned down the role of Holiday multiple times because she “didn’t want to dishonor” the singer’s legacy.
“The United States vs. Billie Holiday” and Day are both nominated at the Golden Globe Awards. The film will premiere Feb. 26 on Hulu.