Andra Day is opening up about her critically acclaimed performance as legendary jazz singer Billie Holiday in The United States vs. Billie Holiday, and her deliberate choice to not sexualize the icon.
Day lost 40 pounds for the role, and her performance earned her a Best Actress Golden Globe. In a new interview with InStyle for the magazine's June issue, the 36-year-old actress says her personal life affected how she played Holiday.
"I didn't want any element of sexualization," she says. "I had come out of something in my own life — dealing with porn addiction, sex addiction. I'm being very, very candid with you because I'm not the only one. But I knew I wanted all of that very much gone."
Day says she's now currently in a better place.
"I feel now, after playing Billie, that I'm honoring her, and the strength that is femininity," she says. "I'm definitely in a healthier place to enjoy that because I'm outside of the addiction, if you will. So, yeah, it's been really fun, because it's been very new for me."
As for her weight loss, she says there are both pros and cons.
"I've had people ask me, 'Do you feel prettier now that you've lost weight?' I was like, 'Hell, no! I liked being juicy! I was cool,'" she says. "But I do like the way [the weight loss] feels on my body, I like the way it feels on my joints. You do notice a difference."
"Besides, to me, there is no such thing as a classic beauty," she adds. "Beauty takes on so many different forms, in different times and depending on the nation. It's just about being confident, loving yourself, and understanding your value."
Day says that these days, she feels beautiful and proudly owns it.
"And it has to do with Billie," she notes. "It was almost like she said, 'Sis, we're going to have to close this, because I have to survive.' She opened me up to valuing myself in a way that I hadn't fully before."
The June issue of InStyle is available on newsstands, on Amazon, and for digital download on May 14.
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