The famously energetic Grammy, Emmy and Tony award-winner Billy Porter is in the midst of a nation-wide tour using song, and dance, and more to tell his life story — but it’s not just about entertainment! We talked to Billy Porter about how he’s using his platform to influence the world.
Billy, for beginners…
You may recognize Billy Porter from his performance in the TV series “Pose,” a role for which he won an Emmy for lead actor, making him the first openly gay black man to do so. Or maybe you've seen him as Lola in "Kinky Boots," which won him a Tony for best actor and a Grammy for best musical theater album. But we're seeing a whole new side of Billy in his first-ever tour highlighting his career, and his new album called “Black Mona Lisa Tour: Volume 1.” In Billy’s words,
"For a little context, my dream as a kid was to be the male Whitney Houston. My first R & B soul mainstream music album came out in 1997. The industry was very homophobic. It didn't work out for me so well then. Now, 27 years later, I get to come back into this mainstream music space, on my own terms."
We talked to him about how we can all live on our own terms... and the first way he’s done that is with his tour: "It's a celebration of life. Love, joy, hope, peace, all of the words that have sort of disappeared from the lexicon recently. We need to start talking about that again. My hope is to give the world a big bear hug and remind us all that we're better together. And that love always wins."
By presenting a retrospective of his life, Billy hopes to encourage us to "live in authenticity.” As he says, “I had a lot of doubt. But I kept showing up and putting one foot in front of the other. I relinquished expectation and began to practice the truth of ‘we are exactly where we're supposed to be at all times in life, even when it's uncomfortable.’” He says sometimes leaning into what's uncomfortable is worth it if you're being who you truly are "because I could never have imagined the person you see in front of you having the kind of success that you see me having. I never imagined that my queerness would become my superpower. And the reason I’m sitting here before you today is because of that authenticity. I never could have imagined that.
Finally, Billy says to live courageously. “To not fit in, to not kow-tow, to be exactly who you are takes courage. It’s hard to be what one cannot see. And so what I hope is when people see me, and how (being me) has set me free, that they can do the same.
We’re learning to live life on our own terms, Billy Porter style.