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Billy Porter

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Information about Billy Porter

Profile image of Billy Porter

Profession

Category:
ArtMakers
Occupation(s):
Actor

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Purple
Favorite Food:
Fried Chicken, Collard Greens
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring and Fall
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Beach
Favorite Quote:
To Thine Own Self Be True.

Birthplace

Born:
9/21/1969
Birth Location:
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Profession

Category:
ArtMakers
Occupation(s):
Actor

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Purple
Favorite Food:
Fried Chicken, Collard Greens
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring and Fall
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Beach
Favorite Quote:
To Thine Own Self Be True.

Birthplace

Born:
9/21/1969
Birth Location:
Pittsburgh
See how Billy Porter is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Actor Billy Porter was born on September 21, 1969 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and raised by his 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.

In 1991, Porter was cast in the ensemble of Miss Saigon, which won three Tony Awards and became one of the 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 pursued a career in the music industry, winning the 1992 season of the talent competition Star Search and releasing a self-titled 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, the Los Angeles staging of Once on This Island, and a revival of George C. Wolfe’s play, The Colored Museum. 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 as Lola in the musical Kinky Boots, winning the 2013 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical, the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actor in a Musical, and the 2014 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album for his performance. In the years following, Porter wrote the semi-autobiographical play While 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, or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed. In 2018, Porter became a series regular in the television show Pose, and appeared on multiple episodes of American Horror Story: Apocalypse. He was a supporter and fundraiser for the Ali Forney Center, a community center for homeless LGBT youth in New York City.

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

See how Billy Porter is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Billy Porter's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Billy Porter lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Billy Porter describes his mother's family background, pt. 1
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Billy Porter talks about his parents' marriage
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Billy Porter talks about his mother's second marriage
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Billy Porter describes his mother's family background, pt. 2
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Billy Porter describes his father's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Billy Porter describes his earliest childhood memories
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Billy Porter describes his early personality
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Billy Porter describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Billy Porter remembers Florence Reizenstein Middle School in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Billy Porter describes his early interest in musical theater
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Billy Porter remembers the influence of 'Dreamgirls'
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Billy Porter describes his early experiences of religion
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Billy Porter remembers the start of the HIV/AIDS epidemic
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Billy Porter remembers telling his mother about his stepfather's abuse
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Billy Porter describes his daily routine during high school
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Billy Porter talks about the effects of his childhood sexual abuse, pt. 1
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Billy Porter talks about the effects of his childhood sexual abuse, pt. 2
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Billy Porter recalls his confrontation with his stepfather
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Billy Porter describes his decision to attend Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Billy Porter recalls his classmates at Carnegie Mellon University
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Billy Porter describes his experiences at Carnegie Mellon University
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Billy Porter describes the start of his career in New York City
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Billy Porter describes his experiences in the ensemble of 'Miss Saigon'
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Billy Porter talks about his early work as a vocalist
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Billy Porter remembers winning 'Star Search'
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Billy Porter recalls his experiences as an understudy for 'Five Guys Named Moe'
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Billy Porter remembers his casting as the Teen Angel in 'Grease'
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Billy Porter describes the first day of rehearsals for 'Grease'
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Billy Porter remembers seeing 'Angels in America' for the first time
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Billy Porter talks about his first album, 'Untitled'
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Billy Porter describes his decision to move to Los Angeles, California
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Billy Porter talks about his career in Los Angeles, California
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Billy Porter talks about his return to New York City and Broadway
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Billy Porter remember auditioning for the role of Lola in 'Kinky Boots'
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Billy Porter describes the success of 'Kinky Boots'
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Billy Porter talks about his plans for the future
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Billy Porter reflects upon the impact of HIV/AIDS
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Billy Porter reflects upon his legacy
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Billy Porter reflects upon his life