“I had a nervous breakdown literally the night before I got the call,” actor Billy Porter recalls about going in to audition for “Pose” showrunner Ryan Murphy. The pair appeared on stage with other cast and crew recently (watch the video above) for an audience of Emmy voters after a screening of the first season’s “Love is the Message,” which will likely be the episode that Porter submits for consideration if nominated for Best Drama Actor.
Porter recalls having “had this horrible pilot season” that was amounting to another chapter in “the fight to be seen as a three-dimensional human being and not just a clown for entertainment disposal.” He explains, “I had gotten to this place where I won the Tony, I won the Grammy, I had done all the things, I had worked hard and still, this film and television thing was not clicking.” In the four years after his awards run for “Kinky Boots” on Broadway and leading up to “Pose,” Porter had bit parts in only one television episode and one direct-to-video film. He recounts, “If the code ‘flamboyantly…’ wasn’t inside of the description of the character, I wouldn’t be called in for the part — couldn’t be seen, but then I would put myself on tape and then be dismissed as being too flamboyant.”
“We decided then and there that not only did he have the part, but we were going to rewrite the part and make this character Pray Tell,” Murphy recalls about his audition, which initially saw Porter reading for the part that went to Charlayne Woodard. Although Porter admits to being “in a state” at the audition, he reveals that he had also been anticipating Murphy for three years at that point. He explains about zeroing in on the idea of Murphy as his savior, “This man is going to understand me because he doesn’t shy away from what’s real, so unbeknownst to him, I had been speaking him into the universe, putting him on my vision boards, writing his name into my journal.”
Best Drama Supporting Actress hopeful Indya Moore went further in her respect for Murphy by addressing him directly, “Ryan Murphy, you are in my eyes, perhaps the most powerful person in the world because you have the power to influence a nation — the perspective of people in ways even the president wouldn’t be able to do.”
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