Billy Porter Makes History with Emmy Win

Actor Billy Porter made history during the 71st Primetime Emmy Awards by becoming the first openly gay Black man to win Best Actor in a Drama.

Porter, 50, accepted the award during the ceremony on September 22 at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, California for his portrayal of Pray Tell on the Emmy-nominated show, Pose.

“The category is love, you all. Love. I am so overwhelmed and I am so overjoyed to have lived long enough to see this day. James Baldwin said, ‘Took many years of vomiting up all the filth that I had been taught about myself and halfway believed before I could walk around this earth like I had the right to be here.’ I have the right. You have the right. We all have the right,” he said during his acceptance speech.

The FX show Pose is set in the 1980s and is about New York City's African American and Latino LGBTQ community and the gender-nonconforming ballroom culture. Porter portrays the role of Pray Tell, an outspoken emcee, according to IMDb. The show — created by Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, and Steven Canals — was also nominated for Outstanding Drama Series.

Porter beat out other nominated actors like Sterling K. Brown (This is Us), Milo Ventimiglia (This is Us), Jason Bateman (Ozark), Bob Odenkirk (Better Call Saul), and Kit Harington (Game of Thrones). Following his win, Porter told reporters that he was glad he could “stand up in front of the world as my true authentic self.”

“It’s been a lot of work. It’s been a long time,” he said, according to People.

“And I am just so grateful that I live long enough to see the day where I could stand up in front of the world as my true authentic self. My true authentic self, I was told that who I am was never going to work. I was told that who and what I am would never be successful. Period."

Porter continues, "That’s what I was told. I did not believe that. This is proof positive that believe in yourself, invest in yourself, Love yourself, and then teach other people how to do it.”

Porter is also one award away from winning an EGOT. In 2013, Porter won the Tony Award for Best Lead Actor in a Musical for his role as Lola in the Broadway production of Kinky Boots. He has also won a Drama Desk Award, an Outer Critics Circle Award, and a Grammy in 2014 for Best Musical Theater Album from the award-winning show. Porter has also starred in musicals like Shuffle Along, Smokey Joe’s Cafe, Grease, Five Guys Named Moe, and Miss Saigon, according to Broadway.com. In June, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce’s Walk of Fame Selection Committee announced that Porter would receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

“This year’s choices were particularly unique,” selection committee chair and Walk of Famer Vin Di Bona said in a previous statement. “We were able to recognize the talents of 35 artists who have already built a legacy here in Hollywood. Also, we were able to celebrate many new talented artists who’ve touched our hearts in film, television, radio and a variety of musical categories.”

Following the news, Porter took to Twitter to share his excitement, writing, “I’m in #hollywood for good now b—!”

Jharrel Jerome also had a historic win at the 71st Emmy Awards, receiving the award for Lead Actor in a Limited Series for his performance as Korey Wise in the Netflix show about the Central Park Five, When They See Us. He is the first Afro-Latino and Dominican to win the award, according to NBC News. The 21-year-old beat out other nominees like Mahershala Ali (True Detective), Benicio Del Toro (Escape at Dannemora), Hugh Grant (A Very English Scandal), Jared Harris (Chernobyl), and Sam Rockwell (Fosse/Verdon).


About the Author

Maria Perez is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has an M.A. in Urban Reporting from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She has been published in various venues, including Newsweek, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, City Limits, and local newspapers like The Wave and The Home Reporter.