Billy Porter says his critics can stay mad, weeks after he was cast as James Baldwin for a new biopic.
The Emmy-winning “Pose” star appeared on the “Tamron Hall Show” on Wednesday to discuss his upcoming role as the author and activist, which he said “just fell into place.”
“He’s one of the first people who I saw who looked like me,” he told Hall, “who represented me in the fullness — Black and queer and present. Unapologetic.”
Byron Allen’s Allen Media Group Motion Pictures announced earlier this month that the “Kinky Boots” actor would star as Baldwin and co-write the upcoming biopic with Dan McCabe. The film will be based on the 1994 book “James Baldwin: A Biography” by David Leeming.
Porter’s casting divided social media. Some Twitter users wrote that the “80 for Brady” star is “gonna kill it” as Baldwin, and others were feeling unsure whether the roles works.
“Hmm … this is either going to be really good or disappointingly inauthentic,” one Twitter user said. “Depends on Billy and the writing. I’m interested to see how it turns out, but I’m a big fan of James Baldwin and slightly terrified at ANYONE portraying him to be honest so… we’ll see”
The buzz around Porter’s casting made it to the “Tamron Hall Show,” where he fired back at social media users doubting his acting abilities.
“The internet has created a space where it’s made people think that their opinion matters at all,” he said. “It doesn’t.”
He continued. “I am 53 years old and I’ve dedicated my life to my art and craft. Question me at your own peril.”
Porter, who just needs an Academy Award to reach the coveted EGOT status, said that haters can “call me whatever you want,” but that the proof of his talent will be in the pudding.
Also vouching for Porter is Byron Allen, who Porter said encouraged him to take on the “Go Tell It on the Mountain” writer.
“Billy Porter is a phenomenally-talented and brilliant person,” Allen told The Times in a statement Friday. “We are one-thousand percent confident in Billy’s ability to portray any role, especially James Baldwin.”
Baldwin was known for his works including “If Beale Street Could Talk,” “Notes of a Native Son” and “Go Tell It on the Mountain,” which spotlighted the Black experience on the cusp of the civil rights movement. He died in 1987 at age 63.
According to Porter, the biopic is still in its early stages with a script in development. Until the film hits the big screen, the “Unprotected” author says all he can do is “focus on the work.”
“People have been doubting me my whole life,” he said. “This ain’t nothing new. It’s OK.”