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It’s been quite the year for so far for 2021 Black Women In Hollywood honoree Andra Day.

Her powerful performance as Billie Holiday is Hulu’s The United States vs. Billie Holiday has earned her a Golden Globe Award, an Oscar nomination and a host of well-deserved praise. As she took to the stage to accept the Breakthrough Star Award, the actress and songstress reflected on what comes to mind when she hears “breakthrough.”

“I love the term “breakthrough. I love that term because I think “breakthrough” is the essence of who Black women are,” she said during the opening moments of her speech. “And I think breakthrough is the essence of who Billie Holiday was and the road that she paved for us to walk on. Black women are constantly breaking through so many different barriers and so many different boxes that people try to put us in.”

The Grammy-winning entertainer went on to recall a stigma she herself had to break through while filming The United vs Billie Holiday.

“I remember when I was on set, one of the things that we had to break through is, people would say to me constantly, “you know, this will be the hardest you’ll ever work in a movie because there’s not meaty roles like this for Black women,” she said. “And I just remember thinking to myself, “Well, who possibly has meatier roles than Black women? And for somebody to say that, it’s very clear that our stories have not fully been told.”

Watch the video above to hear Andra Day’s profound speech in full and then head over to www.essencestudios.com for more of everything you missed at the 2021 ESSENCE Black Women In Hollywood Awards.

The ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood are presented by Ford and sponsored by American Airlines, Coca-Cola, Korbel and L’Oréal Paris.

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