Andra Day to Receive Breakthrough Performance Honor From Palm Springs International Film Awards

Singer-turned actress will be celebrated for playing the title role in “The United States vs. Billie Holiday”


Takashi Seida

The Palm Springs International Film Awards will honor “The United States vs. Billie Holiday” star Andra Day with the 2021 Breakthrough Performance Award, the festival’s organizers announced on Friday.

Day will receive the award for her performance as Holiday in the Lee Daniels film about the iconic but tortured jazz singer, who was relentlessly pursued by the FBI while fighting drug addiction in the 1940s and ’50s. The role marks the acting debut of Day, a singer who has received Grammy nominations for her album “Cheers to the Fall” and single “Rise Up.”

On Wednesday, she was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for her performance.

“Few jazz vocalists are more beloved than Billie Holiday, and Andra Day brings Holiday and her iconic voice back to life through a sympathetic and nuanced portrayal that sheds new light on the U.S. government’s role in seeking to muzzle a homegrown legend,” PSIFF chairman Harold Matzner said in a statement.

In the past, the Breakthrough Performance Award has gone to Mahershala Ali, Mary J. Blige, Cynthia Erivo, Brie Larson, Rami Malek and Lupita Nyong’o. Day will join the previously announced honorees: “The Father” actor Anthony Hopkins (Career Achievement Award), “Promising Young Woman” star Carey Mulligan (International Star Award, Actress), “One Night in Miami” actor and songwriter Leslie Odom Jr. (Spotlight Award, Actor), “Sound of Metal” star Riz Ahmed (Desert Palm Achievement Award, Actor), “Mank” actor Gary Oldman (Chairman’s Award), “Nomadland” director Chloé Zhao (Director of the Year Award) and Aaron Sorkin’s “The Trial of the Chicago 7” (Vanguard Award).

While the Palm Springs Awards Gala typically takes place in the desert resort town at the beginning of the annual Palm Springs International Film Festival, this year’s festival and gala will not take place as in-person events.

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