Beginning production in early October in Montreal, Lee Daniels will direct and produce THE UNITED STATES VS. BILLY HOLIDAY, a new feature film about the legendary jazz singer Billie Holiday. In 2010, Daniels received an Academy Award nomination for Best Director and was the first African American to receive a Director’s Guild of America Nomination for Best Director for his critically acclaimed film PRECIOUS. Daniels also helmed the global box-office hit, THE BUTLER in 2013, grossing over $175M worldwide.
Multiple Grammy and NAACP Image Award Nominee Andra Day (MARSHALL) will lead a diverse cast as the iconic Billie Holiday, alongside co-stars NAACP Image Award Nominee Trevante Rhodes (BIRD BOX and MOONLIGHT), SAG Award Nominee Garrett Hedlund (MUDBOUND and TRIPLE FRONTIER), and Emmy Award Nominee Natasha Lyonne (RUSSIAN DOLL and ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK).
The script is written by Suzan-Lori Parks. Parks was the first African-American woman to receive a Pulitzer Prize for her play TOPDOG/UNDERDOG and later went on to script NATIVE SON in 2019.
The film is inspired by the critically acclaimed and widely beloved 2015 New York Time’s Bestseller “Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs” written by Johann Hari. “Chasing the Scream” is a non-fiction examination of the history and impact of drug criminalization, otherwise known as “The War on Drugs.”
The film is being produced by New Slate Ventures, Lee Daniels Entertainment, Roth Kirschenbaum Films with Jordan Fudge, Lee Daniels, Pamela Oas Williams and Tucker Tooley. Executive Producers include Hilary Shor, George Parra, Mark Bomback and Dennis Stratton. BAFTA nominated composer Christopher Gunning (LA VIE EN ROSE) will come out of retirement to design the original score, while Grammy Nominated Salaam Remi (Amy Winehouse) is on board as Executive Music Producer.
LD comments: “It is an extraordinary responsibility to tell the story of the iconic Billie Holiday. Her story is very personal to me and I hope to do justice when bringing to light this profound and complicated soul — a great artist and an unsung civil rights warrior.”
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