Billy Porter: ‘Straight Black Man’ Jeffrey Wright Playing Gay Character in ‘Angels in America’ Is How Hollywood Marginalized Queer People

Amy Sussman; Rob Kim/Getty Images for HBO)
Amy Sussman; Rob Kim/Getty Images for HBO)

Emmy-winning Hollywood star Billy Porter has called out fellow actor Jeffrey Wright for playing a gay character in Angels in America, noting that Wright is a “straight black man.”

While Billy Porter stopped short of criticizing Wright’s acting, the Pose star expressed dissatisfaction with the casting choice for the character of Belize, a gay male nurse and former drag queen who figures prominently in Tony Kushner’s AIDS-themed play that opened on Broadway in 1993.

In an interview, Porter, who is openly gay, seemed somewhat bitter, suggesting that he would have been a better fit for the role.

“No shade — he [Wright] was fabulous. But a straight black man,” Porter said in a conversation published in Variety. “Playing the one part that I could get. Because no one respected me as an actor enough to be straight. I was marginalized for my queerness.”

Porter noted that he was appearing in Grease on Broadway around the same time.

“And I was not happy at all. It was not what I came here for at all. I did not show up in this business to be a clown. And it was seeing Angels in America that gave me clarity for the reasons why I was so unhappy.”

Jeffrey Wright played Belize in the Broadway run of Angels in America as well as in the HBO adaptation that debuted in 2003. The actor, who won an Emmy and Tony Award for his performances, was a vocal and profane critic of former President Donald Trump, comparing him to Charles Manson and his supporters to the KKK.

Billy Porter was among Hollywood’s biggest Joe Biden supporters during last year’s presidential election, appearing at virtual fundraisers and even performing a bizarre rendition of the song “For What It’s Worth” during the Democratic National Convention.

The actor also promoted vote by mail by teaming up with Michelle Obama’s voter initiative When We All Vote.

FX’s Pose recently concluded its three-season run this month. Porter will next be seen in Amazon Prime Video’s Cinderella in which he will play the fairy godparent.

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