Grandfather to all the legendary children who compete in the house balls, Pray Tell, played by Billy Porter, serves as a source of support to Blanca and her house. An adept fashion designer, Pray Tell aspires to one day have his own clothing line sold in a high-end boutique.
Porter is best known for starring as “Lola” in the smash hit Broadway musical Kinky Boots, for which he won the 2013 Drama Desk and Tony Awards for Best Actor in a Musical. Other Broadway acting credits include the Tony®-nominated Broadway musical, Shuffle Along, directed by George C. Wolfe. Miss Saigon, Five Guys Named Moe, Grease (all original cast), Smokey Joe’s Café and Dreamgirls (20th Anniversary Broadway Concert and LA Ovation Award). Off-Broadway and regional credits include Angels in America (Signature Theater), Romance In Hard Times, The Merchant of Venice, House of Lear and Radiant Baby (The New York Shakespeare Festival), Birdie Blue (Second Stage), Angels in America (Actors Theatre Of Louisville), Going Native (The Long Wharf), Jelly’s Last Jam (Alliance), Top Dog/Underdog (City Theatre), King Lear (Exit, Pursued By A Bear), Jason Robert Brown’s Songs For A New World (original cast), Jesus Christ Superstar, Antigone, A Chorus Line and Chicago. His one-man show, Ghetto Superstar: The Man That I Am, debuted at The Public Theater in NYC in conjunction with City Theatre of Pittsburgh and was nominated for a 2005 GLAAD Media Award. Porter was also named “Pittsburgh’s Performer of the Year 2003-2004” by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Porter’s film and television credits include Baz Luhrmann’s The Get Down (Netflix), The Humbling co- starring Al Pacino and Greta Gerwig directed by Barry Levinson, Sundance Film Festival features The Broken Hearts Club (Sony Pictures) and Intern, Noel (with Susan Sarandon and Robin Williams), Shake Rattle & Roll as “Little Richard” (CBS miniseries) among others. His original song “Time” has been featured twice on the mega-hit television series So You Think You Can Dance as well as the 2011 Miss America Pageant. Porter’s concerts credits include opening act for Rosie O’Donnell and Aretha Franklin, Carnegie Hall, John McDaniel and the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, as well as The Buffalo Philharmonic, Peter Nero and The Philly Pops, soloist for President Bill Clinton and various benefits throughout the U.S.
As a director, Porter directed the revivals of George C. Wolfe’s plays, The Colored Museum and Top Dog/Underdog at the prestigious Huntington Theater. Porter also has directed a critically acclaimed recreation of The Wiz and conceived a musical revue entitled Signed, Sealed, Delivered: The Music of Stevie Wonder, which starred Chaka Khan and ran at The Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas in the spring of 2002. Porter conceived and directed Being Alive, a musical celebration that aligns the cannons of Stephen Sondheim and William Shakespeare and combines them with the soulful musical styles of the African-American experience. Being Alive made its world premiere in the summer of 2007 at The Westport Country Playhouse and immediately transferred to The Philadelphia Theatre Company, inaugurating their new Suzanne Roberts Theatre. He directed the new musical Twilight In Manchego for the NYMF in the fall of 2008 and is the NAACP Theatre Award winner for Best Direction of a Musical for his production of Once On This Island at Reprise Theatre Company. Porter made his London directorial debut in the fall of 2009 with Olivier Award Nominee Patina Miller at Live in the Delfont Room. Primary Stages presented the highly successful World Premiere of While I Yet Live, which he wrote, that played at the off Broadway Duke Theater.
Porter is a Tony and Grammy Award-winning actor, singer, director, composer, and playwright from Pittsburgh. As a recording artist, Porter’s solo albums include his first CD, Untitled, on A&M records and his sophomore album, At the Corner of Broadway + Soul - LIVE. Billy’s Back on Broadway was released in 2014. Porter’s newest album, The Soul of Richard Rodgers, is released on Sony Masterworks.
Porter’s voice can also be heard on the albums A Very Rosie Christmas, Jim Brickman’s Destiny (top ten AC hit), Grease (revival cast album) and more.
Porter is also a graduate of The Professional Program in Screenwriting at UCLA and is an adjunct professor at his alma mater Carnegie Mellon University’s School Of Drama, where he has directed productions of Company and Letters From ‘Nam. Porter also has received an honorary doctorate from Washington and Jefferson College.