The Awardist: Billy Porter
Emmy nominee Billy Porter talks about his sex scene from season 2 and the overall legacy of 'Pose.'
When Pray Tell (Billy Porter) and Ricky (Dyllon Burnside) decided to break the rules and sleep together, it sent shockwaves throughout their family and the entire ballroom community on Pose, with many far-reaching and unintended consequences. But despite all the collateral damage that decision caused, the season 2, episode 8 love scene between the two black, gay, HIV-positive men represented a powerful moment for onscreen representation — and also for Porter personally.
When the Emmy-nominated star stopped by EW's The Awardist to talk about his second nomination following his historic win last year for the same role, he revealed that Pray Tell's intimate moment with Ricky was the first time he ever had a romantic scene in his entire acting career.
"I would say that was probably the hardest and most difficult thing for me to do because as a Black queer man who has lived in a space for 30 years of being the magical fairy on the side, of never, ever being the object of anyone's affection in anything in my entire career, ever... I've not had a kiss in anything," Porter says. "Not on stage, not on nothing. I haven't been the object of anyone's affection."
He does admit that while he did kiss someone onstage during his time in Dreamgirls, it wasn't the same since his acting partner was always a woman. "I'm gay. It's a different experience," Porter says. "Romantically, I was separated from that in Dreamgirls because that's not who I would normally kiss. I would be kissing a man in real life. I was detached from it."
That's why getting to shoot an extended, beautifully shot, romantic, sexy love scene with another man meant so much to Porter. But despite that, he also admits that he's only watched it onscreen once. "I can't even watch it," he says. "Not because of what I look like, just because I'm still trying to find a space where I can be comfortable watching myself have sex onscreen. It is not easy to watch. I watched it with my husband the first time and we were both like... [grimaces]. We squealed!"
Check out the video above now to see what else Porter had to say about that iconic moment, his feelings about his second nomination despite Pose and all his costars not being recognized alongside him, and more.
For more Emmys scoop, listen to EW’s 'The Awardist' podcast: Interviews with Regina King, Ted Danson, Andre Braugher, and more!