Billy Porter Wears All White at 2020 Emmys and Reflects on His Unapologetic Style: 'I'm Free'
The outstanding lead actor in a drama series nominee — famous for wearing jaw-dropping looks like a velvet Christian Siriano tuxedo ball gown and a Baja East blue crystal jumpsuit to everything from the Oscars to the Grammys — did not disappoint tonight at the 72nd Primetime Emmy Awards, hosted remotely by Jimmy Kimmel and streamed live on the Television Academy's website.
After giving fans and followers a behind-the-scenes look of how he prepped for the big night, the Pose star and activist, 50, finally revealed his look — a custom-made Ashi Studio tailored white jacket with a matching sash — on Instagram's official social media page with a black-and-white picture of himself looking in the mirror.
"And now for the look you’ve been waiting for... it’s actor Billy Porter (@theebillyporter), a dynamic force," the caption reads. "He made history last year as the first openly gay Black man to win best lead actor in a drama at the Emmy Awards. This year, he’s been nominated again for his work as the character Pray Tell on the TV show “Pose.”
“'Never in a million years, as a gay Black man who came out in the 80s during the AIDS crisis, did I imagine that a show like ‘Pose’ and a character like Pray Tell could exist,” writes Porter. “I would describe my style as free. I’ve worked a long time to find a space where I don’t care what other people think about me. That’s a real interesting and hard place to get to. I’m there. I’m free.'"
Porter later showed off the custom design on his own Instagram page, crediting stylists Ty Hunter and Colin Anderson in the caption. He accessorized with show-stopping Lorraine Schwartz jewelry, an Alan Crocetti ear cuff, Rick Owens shoes and Bally sunglasses.
Just a few hours prior, Porter invited social media users to follow along as he got ready for the big night during an Instagram Stories segment he called "behind the scenes at home with Billy Porter."
“Okay so listen. You know, we’re having Emmys at the house, so I’ve got to do all my stuff. So welcome into, you know, all of my ablutions and creams…that make this face fierce," the star says in the first clip, as he shaves his face with a bath towel wrapped around his waist. "We know what’s going on in the world, so I’m trying to hold space for all things. Trying not to lose my mind. Trying to have fun tonight."
On Sunday afternoon, Instagram teased Porter's highly-anticipated appearance with a video compilation of him modeling a variety of looks, wondering whether the fashion icon would choose florals, bold colors, a statement piece or something else for the virtual event.
"Whatever it is, we know it will be fierce," the caption said. "Check back later for the grand reveal ahead of the big night."
In July, Porter took to Instagram to share his "conflicting thoughts" and mixed emotions after receiving the Emmy nomination for his role as Pray Tell in the hit FX series.
"It took me a minute to process all of the conflicting thoughts I had about yesterday. A record number of Black actors received #Emmy nominations this year, myself included. For that, I am grateful," he wrote.
Reflecting on the years of hard work it took him to receive recognition for his work, the actor added, "I have been doing this for a long, long time...If you had told me at 20 that I would win my first Emmy at 50…that I would win at all would have been inconceivable."
He then addressed the fact that his trans co-stars were snubbed once again this year (Pose is nominated for four Emmys, but Porter is the only cast member to earn a solo nomination).
"When I look at my Emmy win last year, I see the exuberant joyfulness in the faces of my #Pose family. MY win is THEIR win," he captioned a photo of MJ Rodriguez, Indya Moore, Angelica Ross, Dominique Jackson and Hailie Sahar.
"And just as we share in each other’s happiness, we all share in each other’s pain. For me, @poseonfx lives at the intersection of art and activism and that is important to me," Porter said. "But I am keenly aware that for my SISTERS - it is much, much deeper than that. This is the story of their LIVES."
The 72nd Emmy Awards, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, are airing live on ABC from 8-11 p.m. ET.