Last night was major for Pose‘s Billy Porter. The actor who portrays Pray Tell, a ballroom MC and mentor on the FX drama series won the 2019 Outstanding Lead Actor In A Drama award at the 71st Emmy Awards that took place on Sunday (Sept. 22), as Variety reports.
Porter became the first openly gay, black man to win in the Emmy category. “The category is love,” Porter said when he took the stage to celebrate his monumental win.
During his speech, the actor addressed the crowd by quoting the iconic writer and playwright James Baldwin. “‘It took many years of vomiting up all the filth I’d been taught about myself, and half-believed, before I was able to walk on the earth as though I had a right to be here,’” Porter recited from his notes before facing the audience. “I have the right, you have the right, we all have the right.”
Porter then thanked his fellow nominees, husband, family, and the cast of Pose. He also gave a huge shoutout to Pose‘s co-creator, Ryan Murphy. “Ryan Murphy, Ryan Murphy, Ryan Murphy. You saw me, you believed in us. Thank you, thank you, thank you,” Porter said.
Before Porter concluded his speech, he spoke directly to the creators in the audience and those watching elsewhere. “We as artists are the people that get to change the molecular structure of the hearts and minds of the people who live on this planet. Please don’t ever stop doing that. Please don’t ever stop telling the truth. I love you all.”
With his historical win, Porter beat Jason Bateman (Ozark), Kit Harington (Game of Thrones), Bob Odenkirk (Better Call Saul), and both Sterling K. Brown and Milo Ventimiglia from This Is Us.