Emmy-winning actor Billy Porter has said he is having to sell his house because of the ongoing strikes in Hollywood.
The comments by the actor, singer and stage star, who is best known for his portrayal of Pray Tell in New York drama series Pose, offer an insight into the struggles faced not just by jobbing actors, but also by some well-known stars.
Porter rose to fame on Broadway, winning a Tony award for best actor for his performance in Kinky Boots before going on to become a household name in Pose – for which he was Golden Globe nominated and became the first openly gay man to win best actor in a drama award at the Emmys in 2019.
In Hollywood, both actors and writers are currently on strike for the first time since 1960, bringing the film and TV industry to a standstill and wreaking financial havoc in Los Angeles.
Speaking in an interview with the Evening Standard, Porter said he was having to sell his house due to the uncertainty over when he will return to his acting 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.”
The actor, who also starred as the Fabulous Godmother in the 2021 retelling of Cinderella starring Camila Cabello, made the comments in an interview about his music career – he will release an album, The Black Mona Lisa, later this year – and said he would not discuss any of his film and television work due to the industrial action.
‘You’ve already starved me out’
Porter referenced an article by US entertainment publication Deadline, in which an anonymous studio executive was quoted as saying on the writers’ strike: “The endgame is to allow things to drag on until union members start losing their apartments and losing their houses.”
The star commented: “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.”
He was in the UK at the time of the interview, but said he would join picket lines when back in the US.
Actors and writers are striking for a number of reasons, including seeking higher pay and safeguards against unauthorised use of their images through artificial intelligence.
Performers see their jobs as especially vulnerable to new technology, with generative AI able to replicate facial expressions, body movement and voice with alarming accuracy.