Billy Porter on His ‘Transformative’ Red Carpet Looks: ‘My Goal Is to Be a Walking Piece of Political Art’
The Pose actor is one of PEOPLE's Best Dressed Stars of the year
Billy Porter has been a Broadway fixture for years, but it was his red carpet appearances throughout 2019 that got the whole world talking — and landed him a spot on PEOPLE’s Best Dressed of 2019 list.
The Pose star, 49, sent heads turning when he arrived at the 2019 Golden Globes in an embroidered suit and pink-lined cape designed by Randi Rahm and he’s been serving serious red carpet style ever since.
He wore a custom Christian Siriano-designed tuxedo ball gown to the Academy Awards, then dressed as a “Sun God” to the Met Gala in a bejeweled gold outfit by The Blonds featuring large wings and an elaborate headpiece and wore a red and hot pink vest-style ball gown by Celestine Couture to the Tony Awards. And Porter is just getting started in redefining the Hollywood red carpet.
“As a man, I really want to make a different kind of statement and show up in a way that could also be transformative, that could also be political,” Porter tells PEOPLE. “My goal was to be a walking piece of political art. When I show up that’s what my goal is. Put a man in a dress and it’s controversial, doesn’t make any sense, but okay. Let’s keep having this conversation until we can change something.”
He credits working on the FX hit Pose, a show about New York City underground ballroom culture in the late 1980s, that changed his perspective on his red carpet style. “I realized how gender fluid my impulses, my whole life has been. I didn’t really understand that until Pose happened,” he shares. “It kind of cracked my brain open and helped me get to a different space and understating about myself, the dilemmas I was putting on myself even just about what I can wear, what was acceptable, what was masculine enough, what was acceptable.”
Porter, along with a few other celebrities including Jonathan Van Ness, who regularly dons skirts and heels, and Sam Smith, who just wore his first pair of heels Tuesday, are starting to push the boundaries on the carpet. “There’s a few of us trying to do it. But I think it’s really transforming something,” Porter says. “It’s really making a difference. I’m seeing more and more men playing in that way.”
RELATED: PEOPLE’S Best Dressed Stars of 2019
And Porter is not planning on changing up his now-iconic style any time soon. He promises his Emmy Awards look will be show stopping.
“It’ll be a fashion moment,” he reveals. “I don’t know what it is yet, but it’s going to be a moment. It has to be a moment now! I’ve created something where I have to show up, it has to be a moment. I don’t know if it’s going to be a dress or anything like that but we’ll see.”
Reporting by Dana Rose Falcone