Actress Andra Day On How Billie Holiday’s Story Is Just As Relevant Today

The “Rise Up” singer, 36, stars as Billie Holiday in a new film. Here, she tells us what it was like to play another iconic musician and shares how she stays grounded.

The story of [Billie Holiday's] life touches on drug addiction, women's rights, and more. The movie may take place in the '40s, but I think a lot of people will watch it and realize a lot of the racial injustices are still happening. A big part of why I was drawn to it was because I think telling these truthful stories can help.

While I was filming, it was a lot of heavy material. I'll be honest, every day was hard. I wish I could say that I was better at self-care during the process. And I was on set with all these trained actors, so I had a fear of not being as good as they were. One thing I would do to take care of myself was drive somewhere beautiful—even if it was the side of a road to watch a sunset. I'd pick a beautiful location to surround myself with while doing script work. Being in nature can always help.

Myriam Santos

I'm a very prayerful person. I try to do prayer and devotion often—which is basically praying and meditating. It keeps me grounded and helps me remind myself of why I am here and why I do the things I do. I've been doing it for about 11 years now, and it's been a guiding force in my life.

Sometimes I like to work out; sometimes I don't. But I always love the after-effect—so I use that as motivation. It can be challenging to get started, but if you just do it, those endorphins kick in and you're glad you did it. So it's just about remembering how you'll feel afterward.

You're never going to be perfect, and that's OK. You have to do things that feel right to you. If you're waiting for other people to give you that validation, it will lead to a lot of stress in your life. You have to do it yourself—that's the only way to feel at peace with who you are.

This article originally appeared in the March 2021 issue of Health Magazine. Click here to subscribe today!

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