While many make us wish to live the bliss of their era, Billie Holiday’s timeless legacy and iconic life was filled with conflict and hostility. Unfortunately, what period dramas don’t show us is the frequent classism and racism—especially for Holiday, who was an African American woman forging her career in a vastly racist early 20th century.
But thanks to Hulu, Billie Holiday’s historical influence—as well as her civil rights activism and anti-racist work—have been immortalised in a new biopic, The United States Vs. Billie Holiday.
Directed by Oscar-winner Lee Daniels, the film shines a spotlight on the legendary musician’s battle with law enforcement, Holiday’s stage presence and her dedication to show-stopping fashion. Which is why Daniels’ collaboration with the luxury fashion house Prada, meant that Holiday’s unforgettable wardrobe shined just as bright as she did.
Fascinated? Keep reading for everything you need to know about the film—from the plot and cast members to where you can stream it.
What Is The Plot Of The United States Vs. Billie Holiday?
The United States Vs. Billie Holiday brings to light the challenges of the jazz singer’s life as a struggling addict and Black woman in America. Unlike past films about her iconic life and legacy, like Diana Ross’ Lady Sings The Blues, this film follows the story of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics who are determined to imprison Holiday on drug charges as retribution for her singing of political songs like “Strange Fruit” and her dedication to integrating audiences.
Also appearing in the film is Holiday’s love for fur, fine jewels and her lesser-known romances with women. Drawn to her life story, Daniels’ chose to represent Holiday, not only because of her artistry, but also because he too battled drug addition.
The United States Vs. Billie Holiday is Lee Daniels latest project—following his previous prestige dramas and biopics like The Paperboy, The Butler, and the Oscar-winning film Precious—which is enough to make this a certified must-watch.
But don’t take our word for it, check out the trailer below to see for yourself.
WATCH BELOW: The United States Vs. Billie Holiday Trailer
Who Is Cast In The United States Vs. Billie Holiday?
While the film’s synopsis and musical moments are enough to have us hitting ‘play’, it’s also jam-packed with Hollywood’s finest for our viewing pleasure.
Leading the cast is Grammy-nominated musician Andra Day as the unforgettable Billie Holiday, whose musical styling has been featured in Grey’s Anatomy and Ben-Hur.
Joining Day is Trevante Rhodes (Moonlight, Bird Box) as Jimmy Fletcher; Garrett Hedlund (Tron: Legacy, Troy) as Commissioner Harry J. Anslinger; Natasha Lyonne (Russian Doll, Orange Is The New Black) as Tallulah Bankhead and Evan Ross (The Hunger Games) as Agent Sam Williams.
Did Prada Design The Costumes In The United States Vs. Billie Holiday?
Holiday’s unmatchable musical talent wasn’t all she was known for. In fact, her memorable fashion moments are still timeless tokens for fashion savants alike. And thankfully, The United States Vs Billie Holiday paid tribute with the very best help possible—Prada.
Director Lee Daniels and the film’s costume designer Paolo Niedduo collaborated with the fashion house to recreate some of the singer’s most memorable stage looks. Together the creative team designed nine breathtaking, standout looks for Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Andra Day to wear in the film.
Delving deep into their fashion archives, Prada used their past work as a reference point to reinterpret Holiday’s most memorable outfits with a contemporary eye, all while honouring the historical time period of the 1940s and 1950s.
And naturally, the result is utterly breathtaking.
“Billie Holiday was a timeless cultural force, imprinting her soulful voice and style on the course of American music and art,” reads a press release from Prada about the brand’s work on the film.
“Holiday’s style, like her voice, was melodic and powerful, mirroring her classically iconic and beautifully complex influence on our cultural landscape.”
As a result, the collaboration saw a dreamy line-up of silk satin evening gowns in ’50s silhouettes and an unforgettable column dress in double ivory silk satin with a sweetheart neckline and crystal embroidery.
Where Can We Watch The United States Vs. Billie Holiday?
Interested in checking it out? The United States Vs. Billie Holiday will be available on Hulu on February 26.