Billy Porter is the actor, singer, and Hollywood star who, despite the Emmy he won, is perhaps best known for what he describes as his “queerness.” In any case, Porter is now one of the leading Hollywood voices in promoting the Hollywood strike.
Porter spoke about his history as an actor and the strike in an interview with the Evening Standard. In the interview, he expressed his disdain for Disney CEO Bob Iger and discussed the financial sacrifices attendant with the strike.
Speaking about the financial sacrifices attendant with the strike, particularly for those actors that haven’t yet made enough money from their careers to do whatever they want, Porter said he had to sell his house to live.
Making that point, Porter said that he needs to sell his house, saying, “I have to sell my house.” Then, continuing, he added, “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***-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!”
That’s not much of a surprise, as Porter has been less than great at holding onto money since he got his first big break and won $100,000 on Star Search in the 90s. Describing how his upbringing led to his bad handling of money, Porter 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!’”
Similarly, Porter was starring on “Pose” from 2018-21 and was estimated to have made $300,000 annually for his role on that show. Further, Porter has a clothing line and singing career. So money shouldn’t be that much of an issue…yet it is.
In any case, Porter also attacked Disney during the Evening Standard interview, saying that the advent of streaming has made it harder for actors to earn a living. First, he described the situation as it used to exist, saying, “In the late Fifties, early Sixties, when they structured a way for artists to be compensated properly through residual [payments], it allowed for the two percent of working actors — and there are 150,000 people in our union — who work consistently…”
He then described how streaming changed that situation, saying, “Then streaming came in. There’s no contract for it… And they don’t have to be transparent with the numbers — it’s not Nielsen ratings anymore. The streaming companies are notoriously opaque with their viewership figures. The business has evolved. So the contract has to evolve and change, period.”
That’s when he got to attacking Disney CEO Bob Iger, saying, “To hear 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*** 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. But when I go back I will join the picket lines.”
Featured image credit: By DVSROSS – New York Pride 50 – 2019-1171, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=80136629
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