I love nothing more than someone who stands by their art, their past and their pain. Something that will inspire, make a difference, and transform a new America. [Billie Holiday] did just that. And when she refused to stop singing, it was a big middle finger for the way she was treated. The government maliciously used her as an example because she was addicted to not wanting to stop singing Strange Fruit.
My character, Harry Anslinger, felt that it was shaking America up the wrong way. And it made him uncomfortable because he was so insecure and had his own concerns and his place in his job, you know, he didn’t want any of it. So it showed how selfish she was. He’s always had ulterior motives in his career and it was very vicious what he did to Billie when other white artists who were specifically addicted to heroin were sent to doctors and he sent them to jail for detox. He took her cabaret license from her so that she could never perform in public afterwards. It was subjected to immense brutality and that is why this film is such an educational experience to watch. I think it should be shown in every classroom for history, for music, and others can learn as much as we can while we are making this film.