30 Nov 2023

Billy Porter on being a queer Black man in the music industry, the actors’ strike & Trump’s America

Billy Porter started singing in church when he was about five years old, and growing up saw performance as a lifeline out of the trauma and rejection he experienced as a black gay man.

The multi-hyphenate star won a Grammy and a few Tonys since his breakout role on Broadway with 2013’s Kinky Boots, and was the first openly gay black man to win a lead acting Emmy for his role in the drama series Pose in 2019. Now Porter is returning to mainstream music with his fifth studio album, Black Mona Lisa, which he hopes will continue to craft an empowering legacy for the queer youth of colour.

Today on Ways to Change the World, he tells Krishnan Guru-Murthy about the challenges he faced due to homophobia in the music industry in the ’90s, the harsh reality of being an actor in the golden age of streaming and what success means to him.

Produced by Silvia Maresca

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