Watch out ‘Succession’ stars: Billy Porter (‘Pose’) is coming for that SAG Award

As Billy Porter accepted his Best Drama Actor Emmy for “Pose” two years ago, he quoted author James Baldwin in saying, “It took many years of vomiting up all the filth that I had been taught about myself and halfway believed before I could walk around this Earth like I had the right to be here.” Until that moment, he was one of many who knew the impact his potential win would have on the entertainment industry, and he passionately emphasized the greatness of the achievement when it became a reality. As the first openly gay Black actor to be awarded or even contend for an Emmy in a lead category, he brought down a barrier that had stood for far too long. Now that his show has ended, he is looking to make history in a similar way at the next Screen Actors Guild Awards.

For three seasons on “Pose,” Porter brought a special brand of gravitas to the role of Pray Tell, New York City’s preeminent house-ballroom emcee. As one of the most experienced figures in the scene, he typically acted as a mentor toward many of the other participants, often while masking the unhappiness caused by his own romantic and health troubles. Having been diagnosed with HIV earlier in his life, Porter drew partly from his own experience in taking viewers on the seven-year journey of a Black, gay man living with the same virus during the 1980s and 1990s.

Porter currently ranks fifth in our SAG TV Drama Actor race with 15/2 odds. Just one step ahead of him is fellow 2021 Emmy nominee Sterling K. Brown, whose role on “This Is Us” has brought him five consecutive individual SAG bids and a win in 2018. Last year’s SAG champion, Jason Bateman (“Ozark”) is ineligible this time around, as are the remaining members of the most recent Best Drama Actor Emmy lineup (winner Josh O’Connor, “The Crown,” Jonathan Majors, “Lovecraft Country,” Regé-Jean Page, “Bridgerton,” and Matthew Rhys, “Perry Mason”).

Porter’s possible competition also includes three “Succession” cast members (Brian Cox, Kieran Culkin, and Jeremy Strong) and two actors from “The Morning Show” (Steve Carell and Billy Crudup), as well as Tom Hiddleston (“Loki”). He already faced Carell, Cox, and Strong at the 2020 Emmys, where Strong, who is at the top of our SAG ranking, emerged victorious. Besides Brown, Carell is the only one in this group who has won a SAG TV award, as he was honored as part of the ensemble of “The Office” in 2007 and 2008.

Outside of his individual category, Porter also stands a strong chance of competing for his first Best TV Drama Ensemble award. One of the “Pose” performers with whom he would share that nomination, Mj Rodriguez, ranks fourth in our Best TV Drama Actress odds and thus could join him in scoring double bids. If he ends up bagging the individual prize, he will follow Brown as the second Black winner in his category and James Gandolfini (“The Sopranos,” 2008), Bryan Cranston (“Breaking Bad,” 2014), and Peter Dinklage (“Game of Thrones,” 2020) as the fourth man to win for the final season of a drama series.

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