Andra Day won best actress in a motion picture – drama over Viola Davis, Vanessa Kirby, Frances McDormand, Carey Mulligan at the Golden Globes Awards

By Dana Rose Falcone
February 28, 2021 11:21 PM
Advertisement

Totally jazzed! Andra Day won best actress in a motion picture – drama at Sunday night's 2021 Golden Globes for her titular role in The United States vs. Billie Holiday.

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).

For more on the Golden Globes, listen below to the episode of PEOPLE Every Day!

"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.

Billie Holiday; Andra Day
Billie Holiday; Andra Day
| Credit: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images; Takashi Seida/Paramount Pictures/Hulu

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.

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."

Want to get the biggest stories from PEOPLE every weekday? Subscribe to our new podcast, PEOPLE Every Day, to get the essential celebrity, entertainment and human interest news stories Monday through Friday.

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.

Catch People (the TV show!) Monday through Friday. Check your local listings for exact times or stream the show every day at 7 p.m. ET/ 4 p.m. PT at People.com and PeopleTV.com.

"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.