Film

Billy Porter wanted to ‘normalise’ trans identities in directorial debut as ‘fear turns into hate’

Patrick Kelleher July 20, 2022
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Billy Porter attends the 2022 Outfest Los Angeles LGBTQ+ Film Festival.

Billy Porter attends the 2022 Outfest Los Angeles LGBTQ+ Film Festival. (Rodin Eckenroth/FilmMagic)

Billy Porter has said he wanted to “normalise” trans identities with his heartfelt teen romantic comedy Anything’s Possible.

The film, which marks Porter’s directorial debut, follows Kelsa (Eva Reign), a Black trans teenager who just wants to be an “average” girl. Sadly, things get a little complicated at school when love blooms between herself and Khal (Abubakr Ali).

It’s a heartwarming film, but it’s also important – we’re living in an era where trans people are so often under attack, whether that’s in state legislatures or in the media. Porter knew how important it was to show a trans teenager living a normal life.

“You know, the story is about the normalisation of the other,” Porter tells PinkNews. “What happens in our culture is, when we don’t understand something, very often we fear it, and then fear turns into hate, and then hate turns into policy. And so, as artists, we have the power to change that narrative, and it’s through pieces like this where we get to show the world what it is to be human. We’re all human beings, and that’s what is the most important.”

Anything’s Possible gave Eva Reign the chance to be her own hero

Anything’s Possible also gives Reign, a former editor at Them, her feature film debut. She was proud to be a part of a film that turns the dial on trans representation.

Eva Reign stars as Kelsa in Billy Porter’s directorial debut.
Eva Reign stars as Kelsa in Billy Porter’s directorial debut. (Tony Rivetti)
© 2022 Orion Releasing LLC. All Rights Reserved

“It meant everything,” Reign says. “I got to be the person I wanted to see growing up. I spent so much time trying to find myself in cinema, in books, in comics – literally anything, and I just kept coming up short until we had the amazing women on Pose, Laverne Cox, Janet Mock, all these amazing women. And yet we still haven’t really seen a Black girl in high school who happens to be trans. The fact that I got to do that is something I’m really, really proud of. We’re starting to see more of these narratives – we haven’t really seen it in film and movies yet. I kind of feel like I got to be my own hero.”

It was blissful to be in the position of being able to tell this story – this particular story.

Ali is hopeful a film like Anything’s Possible can help change the game for LGBTQ+ youth, many of whom will see themselves reflected in its powerful, positive image of queerness.

“I think the beautiful thing about this movie is, you see characters that kind of deal with that very early, simple, innocent, first impulsive love and follow it,” he says.

Eva Reign stars as Kelsa and Abubakr Ali as Khal in Billy Porter’s directorial debut ANYTHING’S POSSIBLE.
Eva Reign stars as Kelsa and Abubakr Ali as Khal in Billy Porter’s directorial debut 
Anything’s Possible. (Orion Pictures) © 2022 Orion Releasing LLC. All Rights Reserved

“I think at the end of the day, we live in a very dark world right now. Just allowing that impulse to exist and following it bravely and openly is a beautiful lesson at the end of the day that I think we should all learn from.”

Being able to be at the helm of telling this kind of story is really profound, really humbling.

Not only is Anything’s Possible a powerful trans story, it’s also the culmination of all of Billy Porter’s hopes and dreams. He’s three quarters of the way to EGOT status (he’s won an Emmy for Pose, and has a Tony and a Grammy for Kinky Boots), but this is the first time he’s had the chance to direct a feature length film. It was a life-affirming experience for him.

“This is my directorial debut in film, but I’ve been directing theatre for about 20 plus years,” Porter says. “Being able to be at the helm of telling this kind of story is really profound, really humbling, and it’s exactly what I asked the universe for so, so many years ago. So the short answer is, it’s bliss. It was blissful to be in the position of being able to tell this story – this particular story.”

Anything’s Possible will be released on Amazon Prime on Friday 22 July. 

 

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