Versatile actor Billy Porter has recently become an integral part of the Ryan Murphy universe. His turn as the wise and wonderful Pray Tell in Pose last spring led to a delicious role as the charismatic and sophisticated warlock Behold on American Horror Story: Apocalypse this fall.
In our latest chat with Porter, the actor shares his experiences on the set of both shows, whether he’ll make a return to Broadway, and what to expect from his upcoming role in Limited Partners.
Billy Porter as Pray Tell in FX's Pose.
How does it feel being a part of a show such as Pose that brought such beautiful and diverse stories to the screen?
BILLY PORTER: The visibility it brings to our marginalized community and the lives that are inevitably transformed and saved as a result of this piece of trailblazing art is the reason I got into this business. I feel empowered and humbled.
What was it like joining the American Horror Story community this season? Can you share with us any funny behind-the-scenes stories from this season? Any hints for next season? Will you be involved?
BP: The AHS fans are very loyal. They are totally invested in our characters and total journey. The TV and film thing in conjunction with the social media of it all is new to me. It’s been fun engaging with people.
We were filming the scene where Emma Roberts and I head back to Murder House to see where this Michael Langdon antichrist situation came from. While we were shooting the scene where we exorcising the spirits to reveal themselves to us, and I was supposed to say, “If we want to talk to them, we have to force them out of hiding.” I couldn’t remember my line, and in an effort to not ruin the take, I said, “We have to, we have to, to, to root ‘em out!” Well, I will never live that down.
You all know if I had any information on next season—and I don’t—I wouldn’t be able to tell you anyway. I’m trying to keep my job, honey. My lips are and will always be sealed.
Any chance you'll be returning to Broadway or recording any new music soon?
BP: I’m dropping a Christmas Spotify playlist on or around December 1st. It will be a combination of past recordings I’ve done over the years coupled with some new tunes. I’m also planning for another full album of hip-hop/soul next summer.
What is your hope for the world in the next few years?
BP: Universal inclusion, equality, and sanity.
Who inspired you when you were a young up-and-coming performer?
BP: Oh, God! The list is too long and I don’t want to leave anybody out so I’ll just say my number one: my mommy!
Do you have any advice for young performers who may see you as an inspiration?
BP: Always believe in yourself and bet on yourself.
What's next for you in terms of new projects?
BP: I’m shooting a movie at the moment called Limited Partners starring Tiffany Haddish, Rose Byrne, and Salma Hayek. I’m also workshopping the late, great pioneer James Baldwin’s The Amen Corner for the Roundabout Theatre Company. I’m also working on Pose Season 2. I’m writing a gospel musical with the incomparable Kurt Carr and I’m directing the pre-Broadway tryout of a new play by this lit playwright Dan McCabe called The Purist opening at The Huntington Theatre in Boston in late summer or early Fall. I’ve written and am starring in a play called Untitled Sex Project that’s being produced off-Broadway by Primary Stages Theatre Company at The Cherry Lane Theatre next fall.