Billy Porter is 53 years old and has no time for nonsense from his critics.
The Emmy- and Tony-winning Pose star has a new biopic about legendary Black queer writer James Baldwin in production, but not everyone is happy.
When he appeared on Tamron Hall’s talk show on Wednesday, April 19, Hall asked Porter what he thought of online critics who said he wasn’t the right man for the role.
“First and foremost, the internet has created a space where it's made people think that their opinion matters at all,” Porter said, shutting down anonymous voices on Twitter. “I am 53 years old and I've dedicated my life to my art and my craft. Question me at your own peril.”
“Call it whatever you want, arrogant…” he continued. “I've worked hard for this, and my mantra — and I say it all the time — I do not now, nor will I ever, adjudicate my life or humanity in sound bites on social media. I'm going to focus on the work — that's all I can do. People have been doubting me my whole life. This ain't nothing new.”
Porter also said that he is so passionate about the project, which he’s starring in and co-writing with Dan McCabe.
“James Baldwin and his work and what he represented in the world, everything, he's one of the first people who I saw who looked like me, who represented me in the fullness: Black, queer, and present,” Porter explained. “I’m alive because I was able to see him in my early 20s, and I met an English professor about a couple of years back who didn't know who he was — an English professor, at a college, teaching English at a college, who didn't know who James Baldwin was. This is unacceptable. It’s completely unacceptable.”
Thanks to Porter and this movie, more people will have access to Baldwin and his work than ever before.
Porter is adapting the screenplay from David Leeming's 1994 book James Baldwin: A Biography.