Billy Porter is making headlines today. We all know Billy Porter, right? As he describes himself in the Evening Standard, Billy says, “I won an Emmy. I’m a fashion icon. Now they need me. Winners write their history, because I’m not supposed to be here looking like this. I’m so grateful that I lived long enough as a gay man of a certain age. I lived through the Aids crisis, honey! I lost a whole generation of folks. [But I] know that I’m part of the generation who kicked the door down.”
It's not just an Emmy – Billy has also won Tonys and he has a Grammy which means he’s an Oscar away from EGOT. Billy is super talented, he is very famous, a pop culture king and queen… but he still has to sell his house. That is the reality of the business right now and it’s why the writers and the actors are on strike. Because the current model is not equitable for the creatives, the people who actually make and front the stories.
Billy is talking about this because, as he notes in the Evening Standard interview, the studios are trying to push the narrative that actors are greedy, that these are “just a bunch of millionaires trying to get more millions.” Well here’s Billy Porter, the multihyphenate, out here telling us that:
“I have to sell my house. Because we’re on strike. And I don’t know when we’re gonna go back [to work]. The life of an artist, until you make f-ck you money — which I haven’t made yet — is still cheque-to-cheque. I was supposed to be in a new movie, and on a new television show starting in September. None of that is happening. So to the person who said ‘we’re going to starve them out until they have to sell their apartments,’ you’ve already starved me out”.
Very few writers and actors in the business make f-ck you money. Billy Porter, the star of Pose, definitely doesn’t make f-ck you money. And I bring up Pose because it’s a Netflix property and if we’ve learned anything from the Orange is the New Black example, a Netflix show’s popularity or cultural value often has no connection with how much the actors on those shows are compensated.
But the other way that a company like Netflix has exploited its creatives is through clout. Series like OITNB and Pose, featuring a diverse range of actors and so many from the 2SLGBTQ+ community, made Netflix look progressive – a champion of inclusion. The company certainly financially benefits from that reputation, but the performers do not. Not even Billy Porter with all his awards and his millions of followers.
The good news is Billy is a survivor. He has an album coming out soon, The Black Mona Lisa – “the past, present, future, always relevant”. And soon on the picket lines with his fellow artists.
Yours in gossip,