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Billy Porter says his goal in making his new film Anything’s Possible — which marks his directorial debut — was to present a Gen Z coming-of-age story centered on a trans girl that hadn’t existed before, a romantic comedy for today’s generation that’s made in the spirit of a John Hughes film like Pretty in Pink or Sixteen Candles.
“It’s been a dream for a long time. I’ve been working towards it for a very long time,” says Porter, the Emmy-winning star of Pose (who’s also three quarters of the way towards EGOT status, thanks to a Tony for the Broadway show Kinky Boots and a Grammy for its soundtrack).
With a Heartstopper-like sweetness, Anything’s Possible, due out July 22 on Amazon Prime Video, tells the story of Kelsa. Played by Eva Reign, Kelsa is a Black transgender high school girl — with a supportive mother (Renée Elise Goldsberry) — who navigates friendships, falls in love with a boy (Abubakr Ali), and deals with drama that their relationship causes, while planning for college. “She tries to figure out what she’s actually capable of in life,” says Porter.
The film is making its world premiere on Thursday, July 14, as the opening night feature of the Outfest Los Angeles LGBTQ+ Film Festival, showing at the Orpheum Theatre in downtown L.A. The festival, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, is also presenting Porter with its biggest honor, the Outfest achievement award.
Porter tells The Hollywood Reporter that an additional factor in signing on to direct Anything’s Possible was that it is set in Pittsburgh, his hometown, where the movie was also shot. “It’s a love letter to Pittsburgh,” says Porter, who had 25 days to shoot the film and says that he completed all of his shooting days on time. “First time out, just by the way. Anybody who’s listening who’s a film person knows what that means,” he adds.
The biggest challenge in making it, though, was the weather. “It literally rained every day for 11 weeks. We made it work, but if you notice in the film, there’s a patina to it that reminds me very much of House of Cards, where everything is kind of like bluish-greenish. There’s a tint to it. It still manages to be a love letter to Pittsburgh, which is cool.”
For Porter, the diverse cast in Anything’s Possible also represents an evolution of LGBTQ representation on screen, compared to the last time he attended Outfest back in the year 2000. That year, he attended the fest with the cast of Greg Berlanti’s baseball-themed gay romantic comedy The Broken Hearts Club. “That film, working with Greg, was the first time I realized I wanted to be a filmmaker and I embarked on a 22-year journey that has led me full circle and back around to Outfest. I’m really, really proud of what Outfest does. It’s the representation of queer people and telling queer stories. And I have to say that at the time — 22 years ago — the queer stories being told were mainly through a white lens. And to be a part of the expansion of these stories and the representation of many different types of people now is really profound.”
Porter recently formed a new production company, Incognegro, with his producing partner, D.J. Gugenheim and signed a first-look deal with FX, where Pose ran for three seasons. He also wrote six new songs for the soundtrack to Anything’s Possible with Justin Tranter. Porter features on four songs on the soundtrack, which also includes Jessie J, Kim Petras and Michaela Jaé Rodriguez.
He’ll next star in the film Our Son, opposite Luke Evans. “It’s very Kramer vs. Kramer. We’re an interracial gay couple who are getting a divorce, and we have an eight-year-old son,” says Porter, who also recently completed a pop album, due out later this year, as part of his new joint record contract with Republic Records and Island UK. Says Porter, “I’m always working, honey.”
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