Porter becoming the first to earn his first Golobe and Emmy nomination this year for his role in POSE was deafinitely something to be industry celebrated. He was the first openly gay black man ever to have been nominated at the Emmys, in the category of Lead Actor in a Drama.
Did Billy Porter ever see this American Dream coming to fruition for him? If he didn’t Ryan Murphy certainly did. At the Pacific Design Center on Friday night, Pose co-creator Ryan Murphy appeared for a conversation in support of his Emmy-nominated series, explaining that in the initial stages of putting together the FX drama, one thought kept coming to mind: “There’s got to be something for Billy Porter in this show.”
According to the Deadline:
As the actor explained during the Pose panel, his personal relationship to the story being told in Pose was a major draw. “I was there. It is my era. I moved to New York December 27th, 1990; Paris Is Burning was the first film, as a black, gay man, where I saw any image of myself in a pseudo-mainstream way,” he said.
In early conversations about the series, Porter shared his experience of the AIDS crisis, as someone who had lived through it, discussing his personal experience of survivor’s guilt. “Survivor’s guilt is a real thing. ‘Why am I still here? What is the point? What is my purpose?’” he said. “I didn’t know how, but I always knew that my art was going to be my way into a deeper kind of healing.”
Eventually, the role of Pray Tell was written specifically for Porter, and while directing the first two episodes of Season 1, Murphy observed “so much power” radiating from the actor. “There was so much there,” he said, “and I could tell that you felt you were letting things out for the first time.”
For Porter, who spent decades struggling as an openly gay black artist, shooting Pose was cathartic. “The first ball day sticks out really clearly to me because I was doing what I thought my television performance should be. I was trying to play Pray Tell and be smaller, be still, don’t be so crazy. [Murphy] walks in and is like, ‘Are you going to give me the sh*t? I need the sh*t. I need you. I need whatever you do,’” he recalled. “I had never said anything to him about it, but he knew instinctively. I was set free on that day, and I never turned back.”
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