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Classicalite Q&A with 'Kinky Boots' Star Billy Porter

by Jon Sobel   Jul 2, 2014 14:04 PM EDT

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With a Tony Award, a new album, and an autobiographical play coming up this fall Off-Broadway at Primary Stages, Billy Porter is on several rolls at once. The Kinky Boots star took some time to speak with us about his broad spectrum of work and some of the inspirations behind it all.

Classicalite: Your new play While I Yet Live is described as autobiographical, about growing up in Pittsburgh surrounded by a group of strong-willed women, and it's got a powerhouse cast to bring them to life. How did you transform the real people in your life into characters for the stage?

Billy Porter: I've learned that the best jumping-off point as a writer is writing what you know. These women were the most influential energies in my life, so I started this from the truth of that, and just tried to create a narrative that expanded on that.

CL: The characters are composites of real people?

BP: Yes.

CL: Are any of those real folks going to have a chance to see the play?

BP: I hope so! My mother will see it, my sister will see it. Some of the people I'm writing about are no longer with us, but three out of the seven will see it.

What do you think of the cast that's been lined up for While I Yet Live?

BP: The cast is ridiculous! I can't even believe that I get to work with these people, it's so unreal. I started the project six or seven years ago just as an exercise to challenge myself to be creative in another way. Never in a million years did I imagine it would culminate with a cast like this.

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