Billy Porter - Biography
Billy Porter is an Emmy, Tony and Grammy Award-winning, and Golden Globe-nominated, actor, singer, director, composer, and playwright from Pittsburgh, PA.
His electric portrayal of ‘Pray Tell’ in the FX’s breakthrough series “Pose,” earned him the Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, as well as Golden Globe, Critics’ Choice Award, and Television Critics Association nominations. He most recently earned a third Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for this role. He was also the recipient of the Dorian Award for TV Performance of the Year from GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics, as well as nominated for a Black Reel Award for Outstanding Actor.
Previously, Porter starred in the eighth season of Ryan Murphy’s acclaimed series “American Horror Story: Apocalypse” as ‘Behold Chablis’, HBO Max’s “That Damn Michael Che,” the second season of CBS All Access’ “The Twilight Zone,” and narrating HBO Max’s four-part docu-series “Equal”. Porter can currently be heard in Disney+'s animated series, “The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder.”
On screen, he recently starred in Amazon Prime’s “Cinderella” re-make as the Fab G, alongside Camila Cabello and Idina Menzel. Porter also recently appeared in the Paramount Players comedy “Like a Boss,” alongside Tiffany Haddish, Rose Byrne and Salma Hayek, and Baz Luhrman’s “The Get Down,” starring Justice Smith, Shameik Moore and Herizen Guardiola. His other television credits include “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” “The Big C,” "Law & Order,” “Shake, Rattle and Roll: An American Love Story” and “Another World.” Porter is making his film directorial debut with the high school coming-of-age film “Anything’s Possible” written by Alvaro García Lecuona. He is also set to direct a queer teen comedy from Gabrielle Union’s I’ll Have Another Productions, titled “To Be Real.”
Under the direction of Barry Levinson, Porter starred in The Humbling, alongside Al Pacino and Greta Gerwig. His other film credits include Noel, The Broken Hearts Club: A Romantic Comedy, Intern, Anastasia and Twisted.
A veteran of the theatre, Porter most previously reprised his role as ‘Lola’ in the smash hit Broadway musical Kinky Boots, for which he won the 2013 Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, and Tony Awards for Best Actor in a Musical, as well as a Grammy Award for Best Musical Theatre Album. Other Broadway acting credits include the Tony nominated Broadway musical, Shuffle Along, directed by George C. Wolfe. Miss Saigon, Five Guys Named Moe, Grease, Smokey Joe’s Café and Dreamgirls (20th Anniversary Broadway Concert and LA Ovation Award).
Off Broadway and regional credits include Angels in America (Signature Theater), Romance In Hard Times, The Merchant of Venice, House of Lear and Radiant Baby (The New York Shakespeare Festival), Birdie Blue (Second Stage), Angels in America (Actors Theatre Of Louisville), Going Native (The Long Wharf), Jelly’s Last Jam (Alliance), Topdog/Underdog (City Theatre), King Lear (Exit, Pursued By A Bear), Jason Robert Brown’s Songs For A New World (original cast), Jesus Christ Superstar, Antigone, A Chorus Line and Chicago. His one-man show, Ghetto Superstar: The Man That I Am, debuted at The Public Theater in conjunction with City Theatre of Pittsburgh and was nominated for a 2005 GLAAD Media Award. Porter was also named “Pittsburgh’s Performer of the Year 2003-2004” by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
As a recording artist, Porter most recently released his single Children under his new record deal with Island Records (UK) and Republic Records (US). He also recently released Finally Ready with The Shapeshifters in June 2020, as well as For What It’s Worth in April 2020 to motivate potential voters. In June 2019, he released his single Love Yourself, in support of Pride Month and the 50th Anniversary of Stonewall. His most recent album, The Soul of Richard Rodgers, was released in 2017 on Sony Masterworks. His solo albums include his first CD, Untitled, on A&M records and his sophomore album, At the Corner of Broadway + Soul - LIVE. Additionally, Billy’s Back on Broadway was released in 2014. Featuring ten classics made famous on the Great White Way that focus on inspiration, empowerment and hope, the album’s title (and cover art) is a nod to Sammy Davis, Jr.’s recording Sammy’s Back on Broadway.
Additionally, Porter’s voice can be heard on the albums A Very Rosie Christmas, Jim Brickman’s Destiny (top ten AC hit), Grease (revival cast album), Adam Guettel’s Myths & Hymns, Gershwin and Sondheim Benefit Albums, Hercules (Disney) and Anastasia (Warner Bros.), Liz Callaway – The Story Goes On, Alvin Ailey/Revelations, Broadway Cares Home For The Holidays, Dreamgirls in Concert, HAIR (Actor’s Fund Benefit recording), Great Joy: A Gospel Christmas (with The Broadway Inspirational Voices) and Love Rocks.
His original song Time has been featured twice on the mega-hit television series “So You Think You Can Dance” as well as the 2011 Miss America Pageant. Porter’s concerts credits include opening act for Rosie O’Donnell and Aretha Franklin, Carnegie Hall, John McDaniel and the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, as well as The Buffalo Philharmonic, Peter Nero and The Philly Pops, soloist for President Bill Clinton and various benefits throughout the U.S.
As a director, Porter’s work includes the The Purists, as well as revivals of George C. Wolf’s plays, The Colored Museum and Top Dog/Underdog at the prestigious Huntington Theater. In addition, Porter has also directed a critically acclaimed recreation of The Wiz and conceived a musical revue entitled Signed, Sealed, Delivered: The Music of Stevie Wonder, which starred Chaka Khan and ran at The Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas in the spring of 2002.
Furthermore, Porter conceived and directed Being Alive, which made its world premiere in the summer of 2007 at The Westport Country Playhouse and immediately transferred to The Philadelphia Theatre Company, inaugurating their new Suzanne Roberts Theatre.
His additional directing credits include Twilight In Manchego, Once On This Island (NAACP Theatre Award Winner), The Soul of Richard Rodgers, Five Guys Named Moe, Altar Boyz, RENT (Associate Director: Off-Broadway Revival) and Wicked Summer Nights Concert Series. Porter made his London directorial debut in the fall of 2009 with Olivier Award Nominee Patina Miller at Live in the Delfont Room. Primary Stages presented the highly successful World Premiere of While I Yet Live, which he wrote, that played at the off Broadway Duke Theater.
Porter released his first literary project, “Unprotected,” in October 2021, which was published by Abrams Press. The memoir is described as ‘a powerful and revealing autobiography about race, sexuality, art, and healing.’
Porter is also a graduate of The Professional Program in Screenwriting at UCLA and is an adjunct professor at his alma mater Carnegie Mellon University’s School Of Drama, where he has directed productions of Company and Letters From ‘Nam. Additionally, Porter has received an honorary doctorate from Washington & Jefferson College.
Porter was recently inducted into the Hollywood Walk of Fame class of 2020. He will receive a star for the category of Live Theatre/Live Performance. In addition, in 2017, Porter was the recipient of the GLAAD Vito Russo Award, an award presented to an openly LGBT media professional who has made a significant difference in promoting equality for the LGBT community.