Hulu has shared the first trailer for Lee Daniels‘ upcoming film The United States vs Billie Holiday, which stars Andra Day as the legendary jazz singer.

The film — which was originally set up at Paramount Pictures for a February 2021 release, but later sold to Hulu — follows Holiday’s tumultuous life and story. It centers on her 1939 song about lynching, “Strange Fruit,” which made her a target of the FBI.

“Reporters keep asking me, ‘Billie, why you do the things you do?"” says Day’s Holiday in the film before she belts out her rendition of “Strange Fruit.”

Daniels explains why he decided to focus on Holiday’s activism and the political undertones of her music in the upcoming film.

“When you think of Civil Rights leaders, you think of men,” Daniels said in a statement. “When you think of Billie Holiday, you think of this brilliant tortured jazz singer that happened to have been a drug addict. I didn’t know that she kicked off the Civil Rights movement. Before there was a Civil Rights movement, there was Billie Holiday and ‘Strange Fruit.’ The government saw that song as a threat and she was a target. That’s history and they keep it from us.”

Penned by renowned playwright Suzan-Lori ParksThe United States vs Billie Holiday is based on Johan Hari’s 2015 book, Chasing the Scream. The film also stars Trevante RhodesGarrett HedlundNatasha Lyonne and Da’Vine Joy Randolph.

The United States vs Billie Holiday premieres on Hulu on February 26.

By Candice Williams
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