Before landing his breakout role on FX’s Pose, actor Billy Porter nearly quit the industry. “It’s a double layer,” he told The Hollywood Reporter‘s Drama Actor Roundtable. “The layer of being a person of color in this industry, and the other layer of being a queen. No one can see you as anything else.”
“If ‘Flamboyantly…’ wasn’t in the description of the character, no one would see me ever, for anything, which wouldn’t be so enraging if it went the other direction, but it doesn’t,” Porter said. “Straight men, playing gay, everyone wants to give them an award. Thank you for gracing us with your straight presence. That gets tiresome.”
After one particularly bad rejection, Porter recounts breaking down on the phone to his sister, telling her, “I can’t keep putting myself into this position where I am always begging.” The next day, he was called in to audition for Pose.
“I got a call a couple of weeks later: ‘Ryan [Murphy] thinks you’re right. If you can come in and do an impersonation of the MC from Paris Is Burning, he will develop something for you.’ I thought: ‘If?'”
“The whole world has been doing an impersonation of these people from this movie, not even knowing they were doing impersonations of these people,” Porter added.
Porter joined Hugh Grant, Richard Madden, Sam Rockwell, Stephan James and Diego Luna for the Drama Actor Roundtable. The full roundtable airs July 14 on SundanceTV. Follow all the Emmy season roundtables at THR.com/Roundtables.