With the season premiere of the third and final season of “Pose” just days away, actor Billy Porter is reflecting on what the groundbreaking drama has meant to him — and what he hopes others will take from it.
The actor, who won an Emmy in 2019 for playing his beloved “Pose” character, ballroom emcee Pray Tell, says finishing the show is “bittersweet” but he also feels “complete.”
“I am old enough to have lived through the AIDS crisis and I always thought — in a survivor’s guilt kind of way, like why did I survive? Why?” he said during an appearance on “Good Morning America” on Wednesday. “And when ‘Pose’ came around the character of Pray Tell presented itself in my life, I understood why.”
It was previously announced that the show’s third season will take place in 1994, “as AIDS becomes the leading cause of death for Americans ages 25 to 44,” and Porter’s character will struggle with “unexpected health burdens.”
Porter described the time as “a really, really rough period for America,” and said he feels, “there are so many parallels right now with COVID-19.”
“I hope that what people can gain from the show — and from watching these parallels and experiencing this community — break out and lead with love to heal,” he said. “That’s the only way that we can do it.”
“It’s been proven time and time again, and sometimes you just got to be reminded that it’s always about leading with love first,” he added.
During a previous interview with “GMA,” Porter said the show helped to give him the time and space to process the devastating time in history.
“For a lot of us who lived through it — in 1996, the pill came, the antiretroviral drugs came, and everybody moved on — and many of us have not even processed [or] been given a chance to process that time,” he said.
“That is what ‘Pose’ has done for me — it’s given me the space to safely process that time, and also hopefully help others process their trauma and process their grief — metabolize it — surrounding this period of time that very often unfortunately gets swept under the rug,” he added.
Along with the final season of “Pose,” another project of Porter’s that fans are eagerly anticipating is the upcoming adaptation of “Cinderella.”
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In the film, out this July, Porter is playing the Fairy Godmother, which he said is a “full circle” moment for him.
“When I was younger one of my biggest dreams was to be the male Whitney Houston, so I’m playing the Whitney Houston part, y’all,” he said, referring to the late singer’s Fairy Godmother role in the 1997 “Cinderella.”
“Magic has no gender, and I think with this particular ‘Cinderella’ it pushes the old fairy tale — it expands the narrative,” he continued. “It expands what ‘Cinderella’ as a human being can be, what the the family can be — it’s a new, fresh, modern take that I think everybody is going to be really excited about.”
During his “GMA” appearance on Wednesday, Porter also teased that he has new music on the way.
“I’m 51 years old and I’m about to drop some new music with a new record deal, mainstream pop — y’all ain’t ready for it,” he said.
The final season of “Pose” premieres Sunday, May 2 at 10/9c on FX.
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