Billy Porter talks gender-bending 'Cinderella' role

"Magic has no gender."

March 6, 2020, 4:04 AM

If you're expecting the same old "Cinderella" story with next year's live-action movie adaptation from director/writer Kay Cannon, you should probably stop now.

"It's not supposed to be [the same]," Billy Porter, who is playing the Fairy Godmother in the project, told "Good Morning America" in an interview. "Why are we going to do the same thing they did, whenever they did [in the past]? The world has changed."

The film, based on an idea from James Corden, who serves as a producer, stars Camila Cabello as Cinderella. While the big names are certainly enough to get anyone excited, it's Porter's gender-bending casting that has everyone abuzz.

"Magic has no gender," he explained. "I think it's really special and important when we revisit these classic stories and fairy tales and things of that nature that they reflect where the culture is today, where the world is today."

Billy Porter arrives at the Walt Disney Television Emmy Party on Sept. 22, 2019 in Los Angeles.
Gregg Deguire/Getty Images, FILE

"That's what this piece is doing," Porter said. "This version of it is very much about the empowerment of women and the idea that women don't need a man to validate their existence on the planet."

"Magic has no gender."

A magical muse

While the Emmy winner admits he didn't grow up watching the 1950 Disney animated classic -- though he did watch once and has since seen it "a couple of times" -- it's probably the 1997 version he looked to the most for inspiration. This interpretation, starring Brandy, featured Whitney Houston in the spellbinding role he's signed up for.

"[I'm channeling] maybe a little bit of Whitney Houston," Porter said of the late "How Will I Know" singer. "I keep saying I'm playing the Whitney Houston part."

When it comes to what he would tell his younger self about one day having the opportunity to put such a unique spin on such an iconic character, the answer is simple.

Billy Porter attends the 62nd Annual GRAMMY Awards at STAPLES Center on Jan. 26, 2020 in Los Angeles.
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images, FILE

"Be patient. You're right," Porter said. "Be patient ... you're right."

Finding inner joy

Fans of the “Pose” actor -- those who revel in the fierce and fabulous fashion he dons on red carpets -- love him for the happiness he seems to radiate from his every pore. As it turns out, that all-important preparation starts at home for him.

“Decluttering your space helps to declutter your mind,” Porter revealed at an event for Clorox Scentiva. “I know that helps me be more productive with all the things I have to do in life.”

On top of that, it’s all about living his truth.

“I can’t think of it like that. I try to sort of just live inside of my authenticity and be as authentic as I can because that brings me joy. Because I lived for a time not in that space,” Porter insisted. “What brings me the most joy is being authentic and I think that that is what creates a space where I can be positive and spread love on the outside.”