Andra Day Tearfully Thanks Billie Holiday After Winning Golden Globe: 'She Transformed Me'
Andra Day won best actress in a motion picture – drama over Viola Davis, Vanessa Kirby, Frances McDormand, Carey Mulligan at the Golden Globes Awards
This marked her second Golden Globe nomination and first win. Day, 36, beat out fellow nominees Viola Davis (Ma Rainey's Black Bottom), Vanessa Kirby (Pieces of a Woman), Frances McDormand (Nomadland) and Carey Mulligan (Promising Young Woman).
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"To all the incredible nominees. I'm in the presence of giants. ... You inspire me so much. To the amazing, transformative, dynamic Billie Holiday. She transformed me with this role, with her presence, with her spirit. Thanks to everybody who was a part of this incredible project," Holiday said in her speech.
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The Hulu biopic about legendary jazz singer Billie Holiday served as Day's first acting role. And she completely transformed physically and mentally for the part.
"I went from 163 pounds to 124 pounds," the "Rise Up" singer revealed to Variety. "I would talk like her and I don't drink or smoke, but I started smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol. Not that I recommend people do this; I just was desperate because this is my first role. I just asked God to give me all of the pain and trauma. I asked him to give me her pain and give me her trauma."
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She also chopped off "12 years of hair growth," Day said on the new PEOPLE Every Day podcast.
"It was worth it," the two-time Grammy nominee told host Janine Rubenstein. "I was happy actually. I actually really enjoyed the short hair. So ultimately it was working, and I think there's just no way to do a character like her's justice without going [all in]."
Day initially hesitated to portray Holiday, who died at age 44 in 1959 of cirrhosis, a liver condition.
"I didn't anticipate I would go into acting this soon or start with a role like this," she said at a virtual Sundance Film Festival panel earlier this year. "I didn't want to do this when it was first brought to my attention – because I love Billie Holiday ... I was nervous, I was terrified. I said 'no' multiple times."
But it only took one "yes" to bring her awards season glory.
The 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards aired live on NBC from 5-8 p.m. PT/8-11 p.m. ET.