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BET Awards 2022: 5 Things You Didn’t Know About Actress Andra Day

The multitalented star won several awards for her portrayal of Billie Holiday.

Many people became fans of singer-songwriter Andra Day, born Cassandra Monique Batie, thanks to her 2015 breakout hit “Rise Up.” However, she would soon win the hearts of movie lovers alike following her acting debut and portrayal of legendary jazz and swing singer Billie Holiday in the Lee Daniels-directed film The United States v. Billie Holiday.

To say 2021 was an excellent year for the multi talented star would be an understatement. Her performance earned her several accolades, including the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama and the Grammy Award for Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media for the film's accompanying soundtrack. Andra also earned the award for Best Actress at the BET Awards 2021.

Ahead of this year’s show, we’re looking back at some of the best moments, performances, and winners from past ceremonies. Take a look below for five things you probably didn’t know about the BET Awards winner.

  • Andra initially turned down the role of Billie Holiday

    During an interview on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, Andra revealed that when offered the role of the legendary jazz singer, she initially “turned it down” before adding, “I was trying to run from it. My manager's like, 'You should look at this and do this,' and I was like, 'Hell no!'" She added, "I didn't want to do it, period, because I'm not an actor, and that was a scary idea for me. But also, I'm a fan of Billie Holiday's, so what incentivized me was this idea that it would be vindicating her legacy and that the world would know her as the great godmother of civil rights."The film’s director Lee Daniel wasn’t entirely on board; however, after a few phone calls between their managers, they discovered they shared the same goal—to tell Holiday’s story.

  • She became almost unrecognizable for her role as the iconic singer

    During a discussion with W Magazine, the actress revealed she lost nearly 40lbs in preparation for the lifetime role. "I was originally 163 pounds when I started, and I got down to 124. At first, I started by just shrinking my caloric intake, of course, and then exercising as well,” she told the outlet. "I started smoking cigarettes, which I don't do. I don't smoke anything because, first of all, I have no frame of reference for myself smoking. So it makes me feel like her; it slows me down. I’m very fast, and she’s like molasses."

  • Before the silver screen, Andra would entertain children as Cartoon characters

    Before portraying Billie Holiday, Andra held several gigs, including entertaining kids at parties as television characters Dora the Explorer and Minnie Mouse. “People always think I must have been 16 when I did that job, but I was actually about 22 or 23. I would challenge myself to have the best Minnie voice. I had so much fun—it was like performing,” the singer-songwriter told The New York Post.

  • Billie Holiday inspired her stage name

    Born Cassandra Monique Batie, Andra Day chose the moniker as an homage to the late singer, whose nickname was “Lady Day.”

  • A legend discovered her

    Stevie Wonder was introduced to Andra after his former wife, Kai Millard Morris, heard the singer-songwriter performing at a strip mall.

    "I get a call from the one and only Stevie Wonder—and first of all, I didn’t believe it. We talked about writing songs, and he talked about astrology; he was very interested that I was a Capricorn,” Andra said of her first conversation with the musical pioneer.

    Tune into the BET Awards 2022 Sunday, June 26 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on BET.

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