Billy Porter took home the gold after winning the Emmy for outstanding actor in a drama series, and he’s making history as the first openly gay black man to do so.
The 50-year-old actor portrays Pray Tell on FX’s Pose, a drama series about New York City’s African-American and Latino LGBTQ and gender-nonconforming ballroom culture scene in the 80’s and 90’s. The series features the largest cast of LGBTQ actors in television history. Porter’s character is the outrageous and outspoken MC of the New York City house balls that the show centers on.
Porter is the first openly gay black man to even receive a nomination for outstanding actor in a drama series. But on Sunday evening, Porter really made waves (and history!) as the first openly gay black man to WIN that Emmy as he took home the gold.
After taking the stage celebrating his series shouting, “the category is love!” the actor told reporters in the press room that representation in media has “the power to create empathy.”
Porter believes that physical representation is key to creating change. He says that he knows that “being black and gay and out” and being in the public eye like he is gives him the power to create empathy. He also hopes that “young queer people of all colors” will be able to look at him and know that they can do anything.
According to Porter, he was once told that who he is, his “authentic self,” was never going to work and that he would never be successful. But now, he is “so grateful” to see the day when he could be out there as his “true authentic self.”
“Believe in yourself, invest in yourself, love yourself, and then teach other people how to do it,” Porter added.
As historic as this moment may be, though, you wouldn’t have needed a psychic reader to predict his Emmy win. On top of already receiving a Golden Globe for his work on Pose, Porter has also picked up several other awards over the last few years.
Porter made a huge splash as Lola in the original run of Kinky Boots (2013) on Broadway, and earned himself a Tony Award for Best Lead Actor in a Musical and a Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album, among others.