Not even Oscar nominations could stop André Day’s productivity. Junk Jedis came to clean up his garage, and, well, Monday was somehow good.
“I’m so sorry,” she said, as she made a call to talk about her Best Actress nomination at the Academy Awards, while giving her occasional instructions to garage-cleaning magicians. “I still have to raise a house and take care of a family!”
A few months ago, the 36-year-old star was still an unknown relative as an actress – a film starring her as the iconic singer in the Lee Daniels-directed biopic “The United States vs. Billy Holiday” (Hulu). First acting role in a major film. But she is leaving a big impression: Last month, she became just the second black woman to win Best Actress in a Play at the Golden Globes.
And now, she and Viola Davis are the first pair of Black Nominees in the Best Actress category at the Academy Awards since 1973, when Diana Ross was nominated for “Lady Sings the Blues” (for plays in the same role) and Sisley Tyson Was nominated for “sound”
In a conversation on Monday, she discussed what she liked to have at the Golden Globes for the first time, what she wishes someone had told her before she played Billy Holiday, and how she finally kicked the cigarette, she said in the role. Started smoking. These are excerpts from the conversation.
Where were you when you found out that you were nominated?
I was sleeping on the couch again. I slept at 4:46 am, I did not want to wake up to the announcement. But then I woke up around 8 or 8:30 and heard the news. This is just a blessing. I say it all the time, but I am very grateful to God for this.
You have probably seen this nomination coming. Did you react the way you expected?
I expected to be mad and mad, but my reaction was really just one of peace.
This was your first major film role. Do you wish someone had told you before taking you?
I don’t know if they could have told me, because I don’t know if I would have listened. One might say, “Don’t smoke” or “Make sure you take care of your body,” but if I felt that it would improve my performance, or if I felt that I needed to do it, I would May not have listened.
Was it hard to stop smoking?
It got a little scary – what I thought was just a smoker five or six months, with all the pickups in a year and a half we had to shoot. I could not leave that head space because I was not sure if I would be able to go back inside. I have given up now – although I smoked on a photo shoot the other day – and I just put my trust in God to bring me through. Just be gentle with yourself and let yourself go through emotions.
How was it to capture your Golden Globe for the first time?
It was as heavy as hell. I actually have a video when my manager brought it up, and I was like, “Wow, this is really heavy, and it’s golden, and it’s a globe.” Now it’s sitting in my house, “I’m yours,” and it’s amazing.
This is only the second time in nearly 50 years that two Black actresses have been nominated in the category in the same year. What does this mean for you?
It is also an honor that is mentioned in the same way as Viola. But it is a little bit bittersweet because for the first time since 1973, two black women have been nominated in this category. Black women are mostly made to feel inadequate when it is clear that there have been performances that are worthy. I’m looking forward to the time when it’s no longer a conversation – when it’s not “Wow, this is the first time two black women have done this!” – But it’s just a general idea that you can have two black female faces. It should not be an inconvenient idea that it can represent this place to all black women.
What’s next for you?
I am releasing an album on 4 June. This is what I do for a living, though it is also, I think, now. And I’m going to do more stuff with Lee Daniels – we’ve started developing some ideas that we want to co-write, co-direct and co-produce. I want to extract more black stories from there.