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Home | ArtMakers | Billy Porter
Color: Purple
Food: Fried Chicken, Collard Greens
Quote: To Thine Own Self Be True.
Season: Spring and Fall
Vacation Destination: Beach
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania United States
Interview Description:

Biography |

Interview Date: 10/7/2016

Actor Billy Porter was born on September 21, 1969 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He grew up in the East Liberty neighborhood and was raised in the Pentecostal church with his sister, MaryMartha Ford, and mother, Cloerinda Ford. Porter attended Taylor Allderdice High School in Pittsburgh, as well as the Pittsburgh School for the Creative and Performing Arts, where he studied acting, music, and dance. He later attended Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Drama in Pittsburgh, graduating in 1991 with his B.F.A. degree in drama.

While still in college, Porter was cast in the ensemble of Miss Saigon, which won three Tony Awards and became one of the 20 longest-running shows in Broadway history. Throughout the 1990s, he continued to appear in Broadway musicals, including Five Guys Named Moe, Smokey Joe’s Café, and the 1994 revival of Grease, in which he played Teen Angel. Porter also pursued a career in the music industry, winning the 1992 edition of the talent competition Star Search and releasing an untitled R&B album in 1997 with A&M Records. Starting in 2000, he took a hiatus from acting on Broadway to direct productions like the music revue Being Alive at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and the Los Angeles staging of Once on This Island. Porter wrote the solo performance piece Ghetto Superstar, which he debuted in 2005 at New York City’s Public Theatre. Porter went on to appear in the Pittsburgh premiere of Suzan-Lori Parks’ Topdog/Underdog, as well as in the off-Broadway revival of Angels in America at the Signature Theatre in New York City in 2010, where he played Belize.

In 2013, Porter returned to Broadway to play the role of Lola in the musical Kinky BootsWhile I Yet Live, which premiered at Primary Stages in New York City in 2014, and played Aubrey Lyles in the 2016 Broadway musical Shuffle Along. He was a supporter and fundraiser for the Ali Forney Center, a community center for homeless LGBT youth in New York City.

Porter lives in New York, New York.

Billy Porter was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on October 7, 2016.

Speaker Bureau Notes: