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American audiences often hear primarily about the struggles that trans people face, in everything from 1999’s “Boys Don’t Cry” to “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” to the nightly news.
But Billy Porter tried to show a less familiar side of the trans experience in his upcoming directorial debut — joy.
“The working title of my movie is ‘What If.’ I went back home to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to film it,” he tells Page Six. “It’s a coming-of-age romantic comedy inspired by the old John Hughes films [but] populated with what the world looks like today. The lead protagonist character is a black transgender high school girl. So it’s about trans joy, not trans drama.”
It seems as if the tone of the movie is the result of a conversation the “Pose” star had with its creator, Hollywood mogul Ryan Murphy, several years ago.
In May, he told the Hollywood Reporter that Murphy ask him to find more joy in his character.
Porter says that he had been trying to be joyful, but failed because “one of the effects of trauma [that he has suffered in his life] is not being able to feel joy.”
“Ryan actually called me out Season One. I was summoned to [restaurant] Freds on Wilshire Boulevard, and he sat down and said, “I’m going to need you to lean into the joy.” Whew. Nobody can see that. I’m very adept at hiding that side of my struggle, and he called me out.”
He added later, “Now Ryan needed me to lean into the joy, and I couldn’t.”
But it seems he’s finally found a way to put that part of the queer experience on film.
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