His appearance is brief, but dazzling enough to see only him. Billy Porter literally comes out of his cocoon in Cinderella, pop, feminist and inclusive rewrite of Perrault’s tale by the screenwriter of the films Pitch Perfect.
The magic operates as soon as he enters the scene, which sees a butterfly gradually transforming into an impressive orange outfit that sparkles. A belted coat with broad shoulders over straight pants that dresses, with majesty, his godmother the good fairy.
A “fabulous” and non-binary godmother
Because yes, Billy Porter embodies a character until then only female. Her godmother is not magical but “fabulous”, wears heels higher than those of the princess he revamps and defines himself as non-binary according to his interpreter. “Magic has no gender”, as he hammers it in an interview. But she has “also its limits”, he replies to Cinderella when she asks him to make her glass shoes more comfortable.
If Billy Porter is so comfortable in this ancestral costume, it is because the role was designed for him. “So many amazing actresses played this character, so I wrote mine for a man. And honestly, he was the one that met all the criteria I wanted. He sings so well, he’s so talented. wrote with him in mind and it came very easily “, explains to Variety director Kay Cannon, who signs a wacky musical featuring hits from Queen, Madonna and Janet Jackson.
At the time of his casting, the American actor had a moving thought for “the effeminate 14-year-old” it was. “Because all I wanted back then was to become the male version of Whitney Houston. So when I got that phone call I ran around saying, ‘I had the same role as Whitney! I had the same role as Whitney! ‘”, he remembers at the premiere of the film. The diva had been Brandi’s fairy godmother in a Disney movie in 1997. His greatest common point with the character? “I just want to spread joy and hope, to support the people around me, to have compassion, to be loving.”
Singer Camila Cabello, formidable in the role of Cinderella, confesses that he has become her godmother the good fairy off camera. Others might say the same. First black and gay comedian to win the Emmy Award for Best Actor in a Drama Series for Pose Two years ago, Billy Porter campaigned since the beginning of his career for better representation. It doesn’t matter your color, gender or sexual preferences. On the red carpets, he was able to impose a fluid style where he sublimates dresses, trains and other accessories cataloged as feminine. In an interview, he speaks the truth. As last May when he revealed to be HIV positive for ten years in a powerful essay published by The Hollywood Reporter.
Billy Porter will turn 52 on September 21 but has already lived a thousand lives. Actor, singer, author and director, he was honored at the Tony Awards for his performances on Broadway, at the Grammy Awards as well as at the NAACP Awards. (association which campaigns for the equality of African-Americans since 1909, editor’s note) who designated him “artist of the year” last year. From his childhood in Pittsburgh marked by bullying and sexual violence to the lights of Hollywood, he will recount his life in his memoirs to be published on October 19. His next challenge? Play a queer superhero. Charge to Hollywood studios to activate their magic wands to make his dream come true.
>> Cinderella – with Camila Cabello, Nicholas Galitzine, Idina Menzel, Minnie Driver, Billy Porter and Pierce Brosnan, available September 3 on Prime Video
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