Billy Porter may have all the talent in the world, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into major paydays. Porter has been in the press recently, saying he's been forced to put his house on the market due to the financial instability that has resulted from the Hollywood strikes, which he supports.
"I have to sell my house," he told The Evening Standard, "because we're on strike. I don't know when we're gonna go back [to work]. The life of an artist, until you make f--k you money—which I haven't made yet—is still check-to-check. I was supposed to be in a new movie, and on a new television show starting in September. None of that is happening."
Porter, who's brought his charisma to Broadway and TV/film, added that he plans to "join the picket lines" once he's back from London. "The business has evolved," he said. "So the contract has to evolve and change. Period."
With the award-winning actor's financial straits making headlines, here's what we know about Porter’s net worth, how he got his start and more.
What did Billy Porter get famous for?
Broadway fans got to know the force of nature that is Billy Porter first, as he initially made his name acting onstage in productions like the 1994 Broadway revival of Grease. This culminated in Porter’s powerhouse performance as Lola in Kinky Boots on Broadway in 2013—a role he originated—for which he received the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical.
While maintaining a thriving theater career both on Broadway and off, Porter also launched a successful run as a singer. His song “Love Is On The Way” appeared on the soundtrack for the 1996 film The First Wives Club, and he released his debut album, aptly-titled Billy Porter, a year later. He followed that up with two more solo records, 2005’s At the Corner of Broadway + Soul and 2014’s Billy's Back on Broadway for Concord Music Group.
Porter has since gone on to earn recognition with a wider audience for his role on the FX series Pose, co-created by Ryan Murphy, which premiered in 2018. That same year, he joined the cast for the eighth season of Murphy's American Horror Story, and the following, he won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for Pose, making him the first openly gay Black man to not only secure a nomination for a lead acting category at the Emmys but to win!
What is Billy Porter's net worth?
According to Celebrity Net Worth, star of stage and screen Billy Porter has a net worth of an estimated $1 million. The site revised its estimate down from $5 million on Aug. 9. Porter has earned his money through his success as an actor, director, producer, vocal coach and performer.
While $1 million is nothing to sneeze at by normal standards, when it comes to Hollywood, Porter's net worth is definitely on the lower end of the spectrum (at least for such a famous and decorated actor). It's also important to consider that net worth does not equal liquid assets, but instead considers many factors including property and equity.
Why is Billy Porter selling his house?
Billy Porter was interviewed by The Evening Standard earlier this month, revealing that he had to put his house on the market as a direct result of the financial instability caused by the current Hollywood strikes.
The WGA strike began on May 2, 2023 after the Writers Guild of America was unable to reach an agreement with the AMPTP (Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers) regarding fair compensation and the future of AI use in the industry, among other things. SAG joined the strike on July 14, 2023 when the Screen Actors Guild similarly failed to reach a fair agreement.
As a result of the strike in the industry, many entertainment professionals have found themselves out of work for an extended and indefinite period of time. While the majority of entertainment workers support the strike, including Porter himself, this does not mean they haven’t had to deal with a major financial burden as a result of being unable to work.
"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," Porter told The Evening Standard.
Porter was referring to a much-maligned quote by an unnamed Hollywood executive that appeared in Deadline saying, “The endgame is to allow things to drag on until union members start losing their apartments and losing their houses.”
Porter also had words for another studio executive. “To hear [Disney CEO] Bob Iger say that our demands for a living wage are unrealistic? While he makes $78,000 a day? … I don’t have any words for it, but: f--k you. That’s not useful, so I’ve kept my mouth shut. I haven’t engaged because I’m so enraged. I’m glad I’ve been over here [in London]. But when I go back I will join the picket lines.”
Are Billy Porter and Adam Smith still married?
Porter and husband Adam Smith split after six years of marriage, confirming their separation in early July. "The decision was an amicable and mutual one and was made after much consideration. They continue to love and support each other as they embark on this next chapter," their rep said in a statement.
How much did Billy Porter win on Star Search?
Like many rising stars in the early ‘90s, Billy Porter appeared on Star Search in 1992 and ended up winning! The future Broadway powerhouse earned himself a cool $100,000 by coming out triumphant on the talent show. Although, as he told Jimmy Kimmel, he saw less than half off that after taxes.
"After taxes, it was $44[k], and then I didn't have a financial person to talk me through it," he said. "I'm from the hood, so I didn't know what to do. I should've bought an apartment in midtown. I didn't know that was what you were supposed to do with your money, so it just sat in the bank. And I got my teeth fixed because I had gaps in between all my teeth. I was trying to be a movie star, so I was like, 'Well let me fix these teeth, these holy teeth!'"
How much did Billy Porter make for American Horror Story?
It is not publicly known how much Billy Porter was paid for his role in the eighth season of American Horror Story. However, it has been reported that many of the newer actors to the franchise earn between $75,000 to $150,000 an episode. As Porter was in five episodes of the Apocalypse season of the anthology series, we can estimate he may have made around $375,000 to $750,000 for his time on the show.
How much did Billy Porter make for Pose?
It has been estimated that Billy Porter earned around $300,000 a year for each season he worked on the FX series Pose. As the show lasted for three seasons, that would mean he earned $900,000 for the show, altogether. However, Porter himself has not verified these numbers.
Has Billy Porter won any awards?
Oh honey, Billy Porter has won tons of awards! He's won:
A 2019 Primetime Emmy Award for Lead Actor in a Drama Series for Pose
A Tony Award his 2013 performance as Lola in Kinky Boots on Broadway
A (shared) Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album category for the Kinky Boots original Broadway cast recording album, released in 2013.
That puts him one letter away from an EGOT. With any luck, he'll be back to work soon—and with a fair contract.