Entertainment TV Billy Porter on How 'Pose' Turned Around His Career as an 'Out, Black, Gay Actor' Billy Porter is Emmy nominated for his performance as Pray Tell, the outspoken and outrageous emcee of the New York City house balls By Nigel Smith Nigel Smith Nigel Smith is Senior News Editor, Movies at PEOPLE. He is an Entertainment Editor and Writer with more than 10 years of experience in the online and print industries as a journalist, storyteller, proofreader and manager. In 2017 Smith joined the PEOPLE editorial team in New York as News Editor, Movies. He has written feature stories and reviews including interviews with Ryan Reynolds, Anthony Hopkins, Jennifer Hudson and Russell Crowe. Prior, he served as News Editor at the Wrap in Los Angeles, and Entertainment Editor at the Guardian, also in LA, where he covered the red carpet at major awards shows including the Academy Awards, Golden Globes, Governors Awards, Grammy Awards and Independent Spirit Awards. He also attended and reported on major film festivals at Cannes, Sundance, Toronto, Telluride, SXSW and Tribeca. Smith has appeared as an expert commentator on numerous morning and entertainment shows including Good Morning America, Today, NBC News, BBC News, Access Hollywood, NY1, PeopleTV and more. A native of Toronto, Canada, Smith graduated from Syracuse University in New York State with Master of Arts degree in Arts Journalism (Film). He is married and lives in New York City. People Editorial Guidelines Published on August 22, 2019 10:00 AM Share Tweet Pin Email Billy Porter is experiencing a career breakthrough at 49. The Broadway veteran and Tony Award winner was at a low before being cast in FX’s Pose, in which he plays Pray Tell, the outspoken and outrageous emcee of the New York City house balls the ’80s-set show centers on. The series features the largest cast of transgender actors and LGBTQ actors in television history. “I really had a hard time as an out, black, gay actor making any headway. I wasn’t having a great time living up to the heteronormative masculinity standard to get the straight male work,” he tells PEOPLE. “So I wasn’t really working in film and television. And it was just frustrating, you know? It was just frustrating to sort of feel ignored and feel dismissed, and dismissed for even the flamboyant things.” He adds, “So to have this come around and to have it come around in this way is really profound and really special, and I do not take it lightly.” Pose Renewed for Third Season Following Record-Breaking Season 2 Premiere After netting a Golden Globe nomination for his work in Pose, Porter, who married his husband Adam Smith in 2017, now finds himself in the running for this year’s outstanding lead actor in a drama series Emmy Award. Ruven Afanador Billy Porter as Pray Tell on Pose. Macall Polay/FX “The stories that get green-lit with black men are generally stories about us killing each other very often,” says Porter. “And so it’s nice, it’s beautiful, and it’s time. It’s time to see a different story. It’s time for the world to understand that there are all types of people on the planet, and we do different things, and we can honor each other’s humanity inside of that.” Pose just concluded its second season on FX. It was recently renewed for a third season.