“Pose” star Billy Porter just scored his second consecutive Emmy nomination for his performance as emcee Pray Tell. Last year, the multi-talented actor made history as the first openly gay Black man to win the Emmy for Best Drama Actor, stating in his acceptance speech that he was “overwhelmed and overjoyed” to have lived to see the day. What makes it extra special for Porter is to have won with material that comes from an authentic place. “The gratitude to be living in a time where this particular story can be told in this mainstream way is such a gift,” says Porter, in an exclusive interview with Gold Derby before this year’s nominations. “It’s such a blessing.”
Behind the scenes, “Pose” largely consists of producers, directors and writers that reflect what’s onscreen: Black, Brown, queer and trans folks, and the intersections therein. Porter is very trusting of the scripts he is given on the show because they come “from the people who they should be coming from,” such as Janet Mock, Steven Canals, Our Lady J and Ryan Murphy. “The voice is authentic,” observes Porter. “The path was charted for me in such a profound and interesting and direct way.”
For the 2020 Emmys, voters continued to overlook the wealth of trans talent on “Pose,” with Porter as the sole representative among the show’s ensemble cast. The show was also dropped from Best Drama Series after getting in for Season 1. Porter is quick to praise his many co-stars on the show, especially Mj Rodriguez, who plays Blanca, and Angelica Ross, as Candy. Porter and Rodriguez worked together on the Off-Broadway revival of “Rent” in 2010, and the Emmy winner is proud of how much his costar has grown a decade later. “To watch her flourish and grow and become the butterfly that she has become and carrying the humanity of this show and thereby really speaking directly to the trans community, it really just warms my heart and she’s my girl,” praises Porter. He adds that Ross is “the greatest kind of scene partner to work with” because of her fearlessness as a performer.
As for his own performance, Porter tries to stay away from reading into the audience response, even if it is largely positive. “I don’t really pay a lot of attention to what people think about the work, because that can affect the work adversely, whether it’s good news or bad news,” explains the actor. “It can affect it in not such a great way. So I try to stay away from that so I can just be free.”
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