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Billy Porter: ‘I Wanna Be the Person That Writes the Checks’

Billy Porter

The Emmy-nominated actor discusses his life and career in a new Katie Couric interview.

Billy Porter just won't take his heel off our necks. The stage legend turned television star is sharing more about his rise to fame and journey to self worth, this time with Katie Couric. The legendary-in-her-own-right journalist recently joined Porter at designer Christian Siriano's The Curated NYC boutique for a candid interview in which Porter gives us a hint of what's coming next in his career.

"I wanna be Oprah. I wanna be Beyonce," he said. "I wanna be the person that writes the checks. I wanna be the person that can tell myself, 'Yes.' That's next: the boss, bitch!"

The interview, part of Couric's "In My Orbit" video series, was released on her Instagram as part of her Wake-Up Call newsletter. The conversation spans everything from how his impeccable singing garnered him acceptance within his family and how Angels in America changed his life.

"When I sang, the people around me behaved differently," Porter said. "My family wasn't scared of my sissiness anymore. That was the one thing that kept them comforted. So it became: 'Well, just sing as loud as you can and as high as you can for as long as you can until you get out.' And I did."

But where he thought his formal training and talent would kick open doors of opportunity for him, he found himself pigeonholed as the "sassy, Black, queeny, flamboyant clown." Then he saw the character of Belize, played by Jeffrey Wright, in Angels in America.

"For the first time, I saw a Black gay man who was not reviled and not just the comic relief, he said. "He was a human being, like a real human being."

Wondering how he was "going to get someone to see me like that," Porter began saying "no" to the "influx of gay clown jobs" that came his way, not working commerically for 13 years. Then came Pose and Pray Tell, for which Porter is nominated for an Emmy.

"There was no context to dream up a show like Pose, to dream up a character like Pray Tell," he told Couric. "That's what Ryan Murphy and this situation has allowed for me to understand how to do, to dream the impossible. There are no limits."

RELATED | 'Pose' Just Got Nominated For Six Emmys

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