Billy Porter on Pose drunk scenes and ‘discovering’ Blanca
Pose star Billy Porter has revealed why he loved acting drunk on set and how he “discovered” Mj Rodriguez, who plays Blanca Rodriguez-Evangelista.
FX ballroom series Pose follows ballroom culture in the 1980s in New York City, most notably highlighting the lives of Black gay men and transgender women of colour.
Porter plays Pray Tell, a role that recently saw him nominated—alongside trans actress Laverne Cox and lesbian comedian Hannah Gadsby—for an Emmy.
Speaking exclusively to PinkNews, Porter opened up about his friendship with Pose co-star Mj Rodriguez, who plays Blanca Rodriguez-Evangelista.
Watch Porter’s exclusive interview below:
“Blanca is my girl. Blanca is the heart and soul of our show,” he said.
“I just have a special relationship with Mj. I have known Mj since she was 19, before she transitioned.
“I was the associate director of the Rent revival off Broadway, where she played Angel and I could say I was a part of discovering her if you will.”
Porter plays the role of Pray Tell, a central character on Pose—a fashion designer and honorary grandfather to the young, queer stars who compete in the house balls.
We’ve never seen a character that looks like him on television: Black, gay, out, unapologetic and fierce.
Pray Tell is a close friend of Blanca who, much to the disapproval of Elektra who heads up House Abundance, forms her own house with her chosen family, Angel Evangelista (Indya Moore), Lil Papi (Angel Bismark Curiel), Damon (Ryan Jamaal Swain) and his boyfriend, Ricky (Dyllón Burnside).
Porter added that he not only feels honoured to play his character Pray Tell but that the representation is “significant for the world.”
“We’ve never seen a character that looks like him on television: Black, gay, out, unapologetic and fierce,” he explained.
“I am gobsmacked every time I think about it because I never had anything to see and to look at and to look up to when I was younger.
“This kind of specific representation is making such a huge impact, specifically for little, Black gay boys.
“I made the choice to be that, it’s intentional, I know that it’s happening and I know what I’m doing—it’s on purpose.”
Porter added that he loves playing Pray Tell as his character is “not just a gay clown.”
“I fought for that too,” he explained. “Not in this show, just in general.”
His favourite Pose scene was episode six of Season 1.
I’d never played drunk before.
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“Anything highly dramatic I love. You know, like Pray Tell gets his HIV diagnosis, all of episode six, which is essentially based and focused on me,” he laughs.
“My favourite though is the drunk scene around the kitchen table at House of Evangelista towards the beginning of episode six because I’d never played drunk before.
“I was so nervous and that morning I woke up, and before I went to work, I watched Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?.
“So I was like: ‘Do you want full Virginia Woolf or half Virginia Woolf? Like how drunk does she need to be?’
“I love that scene, that’s my favourite.”
Speaking to PinkNews during his visit to the capital for Pride in London, Porter also shared why he loves wearing dresses despite the “vitriol” reaction he has received for his iconic fashion moments on the red carpet.
“We’re not going anywhere,” he said.
“We’re here. Respect me as a human being. You don’t have to like it.”