“We speak into existence what we are. If you keep saying ‘I can’t,” then you won’t. If you say ‘I can,” then there’s a transition that happens all around you,” he says. “Me speaking life into myself ultimately has changed my life”
– Billy Porter, Backstage Magazine 8.1.19
Ok hie beautiful truth bombs!! This hit me haaad (imagine a Boston accent.) So I’ll start with this quote and move forward. One of my old managers use to tell me, or rather (immediately) lovingly scold me whenever I would complain about being “poor” and “having no money” she would tell me to put positive energy out universe and soon those things would come true- roles would come to me and my acting career could take off and eventually—I wouldn’t be poor. It ultimately, (in her eyes, and I believe the immediate connection I made to this quote) comes down to not believing enough in myself that good things could come my way and voicing them aloud. Instead I was stuck in this pit that things would be the way the are because I spoke aloud about my misery and misfortune, somehow making it cosmically true.
That was her take on money and inevitable success coming to me. Now to expand it more broadly in relation to what Billy said, I agree- in this business, there isn’t room for “no” in your head. I remember this young girl I studied with while I was at the Atlantic, one of youngest in our class and extremely talented one day said aloud “I’m finishing this program, and then I’m getting into Juilliard and if I say it aloud enough times it’s going to happen” and this is coming from a girl who is already studying at a prestigious acting school at the time but had her eye set on a dream years ahead.
Now when it comes to me, things are a bit more murky- I have a heart of stone and commitment to my career as an actor I will not take no for an answer, however, being trans- I know for a fact I am not suited for every (or like, most any of them) cis male role and that’s when the audible “I can’t”s slip out.
I believe that because of the way I look and sound and where we are in the industry we aren’t in the place that I can play some of my dream roles and types of characters because the world wouldn’t believe me as maybe the deranged killer on an episode of CSI: DALLAS (is that a show yet? If so- hit me up casting directors?) I believe I won’t be taken seriously and CAN’T play all the cis male roles in mainstream media because the world just isn’t ready for a freckled face, brown skin, high voiced person like me to be believed as “a man” And try as I may to talk aloud and seemly “manifest” good vibes for myself, I have to keep in perspective where the industry is when it comes to trans people playing cis roles.
With THAT being said, I find it very exciting Billy is finally getting his due on such an important show like Pose where trans poc are in the spotlight (literally). Hell, I’ll admit I even had an audition for the show. I had the opportunity to see Billy in Kinky Boots years ago and it’s inspiring to see that a 30 year career in the theatre and after winning a Tony and Grammy he is finally on TV and nominated for an Emmy and mainstream media knows his name because of a show about queer and trans poc. It’s about damn time for HIM and the rest of us for some visibility.
F i e r c e