The category is… love! Nothing else can be the answer now that Billy Porter has won the Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series at the 2019 Emmy Awards for playing Pose’s beloved patriarch, Pray Tell. The victory marks the first time an openly queer Black actor has ever won a lead actor Emmy.
Porter’s speech to mark the occasion couldn’t have been more moving.
“I gotta read! God, the category is, love all! Love! I’m so overwhelmed and I am so overjoyed to have lived long enough to see this day. James Baldwin said, ‘It took many years of vomiting up all the filth that I had been taught about myself and half-way believed, before I could walk around this earth like I had the right to be here,’” Porter said. “I have the right. You have the right. We all the right!”
Porter then went on to thank the “other exquisitely talented men” in his category, which including Game of Thrones' Kit Harington, Ozark's Jason Bateman, Better Call Saul's Bob Odenkirk, and This Is Us stars Sterling K. Brown and Milo Ventimiglia. Porter added, “It is such an honour to be up here breathing the same air that you breathe.” Then the Pose actor praised his mother, sister, husband Adam Porter-Smith, FX, her manager of 29 years, the rest of his Pose cast, and, of course, Pose godfather and co-creator Ryan Murphy.
Before getting off the stage, Porter reminded the room of TV’s top leaders of the extreme power they hold in the world. “We as artists are the people who get to change the molecular structure of the hearts and minds of the people who live on this planet,” he said. “Please don’t ever stop doing that.”
Although Porter got his first national TV credit in 1998 with Another World, this is his first-ever Emmy nomination. Somewhere, Pray Tell is cheering.