Emmy winning Pose star Billy Porter is set to direct his first feature length film, the coming-of-age story What If? for the newly relaunched Orion Pictures, Deadline reports.
What If?, written by Alvaro García Lecuona, follows KHAL, a high school senior who posts on Reddit forum r/relationships asking for advice. He’s got a crush on Kelsa, a trans girl at his school, but is nervous to ask her out. After some internet encouragement, he goes for it and the two “navigate a high school senior year relationship that neither could have expected.”
The script is based on a real-life absolutely adorable Reddit post from a 17-year-old high school student in 2018. He, too, was asking for advice on how to ask out a trans girl in his school.
“Ladies and gentlemen of Reddit, I can't even begin to explain how absolutely and painfully beautiful this girl is,” the post started, “She totally makes me feel lovesick. If I were a cartoon my eyes would turn into hearts and leap from their sockets whenever I see her. She makes me feel weak in the knees...the butterflies in my belly are aggressive and many...I could write poetry about this woman." Young man, you already are writing poetry!!
Other Reddit users overwhelmingly offered support, encouraging the young man to ask this girl out, and offering advice on how to best do it without drawing unnecessary attention to her at school. Now we’ll get to see it play out on the big screen, directed by one of our favorite artists!
Orion Pictures president Alana Mayo says this is the perfect project to relaunch the studio. “We couldn’t be more excited to work with Billy Porter on his feature directing debut and are privileged that he, Alvaro, and the producing team behind this special film have entrusted us with their vision for this beautiful, contemporary love story,” she told Deadline. “What If? is perfectly emblematic of the ambitions we have for the new Orion Pictures: to tell stories about the totality of the human experience,” she added.
“I’m thrilled to be part of this new space in Hollywood for telling all types of stories from all types of people,” Porter said. “I am grateful to be in a position to usher some of these stories into the mainstream and I am humbled that heavy hitters like [producer] Christine Vachon and Alana Mayo have entrusted and empowered me in this insane time we all find ourselves in,” he said.
Lecuona is a “bisexual, bigender, bilingual” screenwriter based in LA and Mexico City. Their screenplay for What If? landed on the inaugural GLAAD list and the 2019 Hit List. This is their first feature length film.