The United States vs. Billie Holiday star Andra Day is having quite the awards season run thus far. Hot on the heels of her first Golden Globe Awards win AND first Academy Award nomination, the man behind the magic is singing her praises.

Click HERE to grab your free passes for the exclusive ESSENCE Studios conversation series featuring the cast of the Hulu original film The United States vs Billie Holiday.

ESSENCE Deputy Editor Cori Murray recently caught up with the Hulu original film’s award-winning director and producer Lee Daniels (Precious, The Butler, Empire, Star), and he had much to say about the journey to ultimately casting Andra Day as Billie Holiday, why he almost cut the film’s nude scenes, who helped Andra prepare for the role, and more.

“Spiritually, she was just…out of body, ” Daniels said, speaking on Day’s reaction to the news of her Oscar nomination. “And, it was fascinating because, you know, I’d felt the same way with Halle Berry and with Mo’Nique and with Gabby (Sidibe). It’s crazy; it never ceases to change—the feelings that they have when they’re nominated. So, it was really, really, really beautiful.”

He also offered insight into how the Black women who raised him impacted the way he pursues his craft, and elaborated on the movie’s importance at a time when he says Hollywood is over-sensationalizing the LGBTQIA experience.

The conversation around the many crucial themes present in the film will continue throughout the month of March on ESSENCE Studios , beginning tonight at 7PM EST, with a discussion on Black men & masculinity. The chat will feature the film’s male cast members Trevante Rhodes, Tyler James Williams, Tone Bell, Rob Morgan and Miss Lawrence in conversation with activist and journalist, Jeff Johnson.

Click HERE to watch Lee Daniels’ interview in full and visit www.essencestudios.com for more information on the upcoming cast conversations.

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