Why Lee Daniels Didn’t Want Andra Day To Audition For Billie Holiday

Cinema Blend

[Andra Day’s] name had come up to me over and over again, by my agents, by her agents, and other friends, the casting director. I hate being told, as you know, Oprah, I hate being told what to do. So I didn’t see her. But I got in my car and I sat and talked to her, and I saw this vulnerable, very vulnerable woman that wanted to do Billie right. And she was talking herself out of the job, I’d never seen it before in my life, but she was talking herself out of the job. ‘Are you sure you want me to audition for this?’ and I couldn’t believe it – I’m talking her into auditioning and I don’t want her to audition. So I sent her to my best friend and acting coach, Tasha Smith, and my other best friend, Tom Jones, a vocal coach, and they punched her to the left and punched her to the right and threw her into the ring with me. And she came in to audition and it just was the birth of a soul. I had not witnessed anything like that before and so I knew that it was God speaking and I had to honor, and it was no question about it.

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March 4, 2021

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