“My life has been transformed by the healing energy of the show that I was blessed to be cast in,” declares Emmy winner Billy Porter about the impact of FX”s “Pose.” The period drama about ballroom culture in New York City recently aired its third and final season with Porter starring as Pray Tell, the ballroom emcee and best friend of house mother Blanca (MJ Rodriguez). Porter, a Tony and Grammy winner for his role as Lola in in the hit musical “Kinky Boots,” was nominated for Best Drama Actor for the show’s first two seasons. His win in 2019 made him the first openly gay Black man to win in that category. Check out our exclusive video interview above.
The final season of “Pose” saw Pray Tell struggling to overcome obstacle after obstacle. After facing and ultimately recovering from alcoholism, Pray Tell returns to his childhood home and church where he must reckon with unresolved trauma from his youth. The season finale culminates in the character’s struggles with HIV and AIDS. All of these topics hit very close to home for Porter, who recently revealed his own HIV positive diagnosis in the pages of The Hollywood Reporter.
However, playing out these very personal scenes did not phase the actor. Instead, he says that facing the trauma of his past was necessary to help him heal. “If you’re ever going to heal anything, you have to look the monsters directly in the face,” he argues. “And how lucky am I to be able to do that creatively and hopefully bless somebody else in the process.”
There is no arguing that “Pose” has changed Porter’s life and career. Along with his history-making Emmy win, Porter has both a new memoir and new music coming out, and is preparing to direct his first feature. “‘Pose’ blew the glass ceiling off of my life,” he argues. “What I needed was a platform and I was never asking for anything for free. I was just asking for the opportunity to show the world what I got.”
Ultimately, Porter argues that “Pose” has done more than just impacted his own life. “I’m so grateful that I lived long enough to see the day where a show like ‘Pose’ and all of the characters that populate it can exist,” he says. “I’m also grateful to have lived long enough to be a part of the generation that kicked the door down and fought for the space for ‘Pose’ to exist, and then be able to walk through the doors that I helped kick down. That’s not lost on me.”
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