Though some would possibly take into account Day an activist (her chart-topping single “Rise Up” has change into the unofficial anthem for Black Lives Matter, for example), it’s not truly a time period she identifies with. “It’s so humorous to listen to the phrase ‘activist’ as a result of I don’t consider myself as one,” she chuckles. “I do know that individuals would say that in all probability sounds very cliché and humble-but-not-humble, however I don’t. I would like individuals to know that I really like God, and I would like individuals to come across that once they encounter me. These ascribed titles, I don’t give them to myself, and, you realize, Billie didn’t both. It’s simply wanting to assist individuals and desirous to serve greater than something. I’m a servant. That’s what it’s, and that’s the easiest way I can describe it. In my thoughts, I’ve this lovely image of eternity, simply concerning one another as larger than ourselves and all people is cherished and valued and brought care of.”
God, Day tells me, was additionally one of many important causes she determined to audition for her now award-winning position—a job that, initially, each she and the movie’s director, Lee Daniels, felt she had no enterprise having something to do with. Regardless of Day’s longtime love for Vacation, which dates again to her preteens, she had no skilled performing expertise. She didn’t have any performing expertise in any respect apart from her early years spent at a performing arts college doing musical theater. “I at all times knew I needed to be concerned within the arts and to carry out, however again then, it was extra about ‘Nicely, do I need to attempt to do Broadway, or do I need to attempt to document music?’” By no means, she says, would she have ever believed she’d be up in opposition to Hollywood’s elite performing skills for the business’s most coveted awards. “I imply, I didn’t need to do that film. I used to be terrified. I used to be like, ‘I’ll undergo with the audition, however I’m going to be horrible.’ Lee and I, we have been form of pressured on one another,” she laughs.
“However then we began speaking, and after I discovered the movie would deal with the Federal Bureau of Narcotics and the way Harry J. Anslinger, J. Edgar Hoover, and [Joseph] McCarthy created this focused warfare on medication to get Billie to cease singing ‘Unusual Fruit,’ a music about lynching in America, I spotted that this movie could be vindicating her legacy. That was extraordinarily engaging for me. That’s what made me audition.”