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Billy Porter Honored for Activism and Advocacy With 2024 Isabelle Stevenson Tony Award

Pittsburgh native Billy Porter has been named the 2024 recipient of the Isabelle Stevenson Tony Award, “in recognition of his outstanding dedication and contributions as an activist and spokesperson for the LGBTQ+ communities, including his work with The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation and the Entertainment Community Fund, among other organizations.”

The announcement Tuesday, May 7, 2024, adds to Porter’s achievements as an actor, which include Tony and Grammy Awards as the star of Kinky Boots and an Emmy Award, among three nominations, for his role on the FX drama Pose. Porter made history as the first openly gay Black man to win an Emmy.

“I’m so overjoyed to have lived long enough to see this day,” said the then 50-year-old Porter in his Emmys acceptance speech.

He won his second Tony in 2022 as a producer for best musical A Strange Loop.

“Billy Porter has made extraordinary contributions as an activist for the LGBTQ+ community and we are truly honored to present him with this year’s Isabelle Stevenson Award,” said a statement from Jason Laks, interim president of The Broadway League, and Heather Hitchens, president and CEO of the American Theatre Wing. “He has lent tremendous time, effort and support to a variety of organizations including The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation, the Entertainment Community Fund, and Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, all while becoming an unstoppable force on stage, screen and beyond.”

When Porter revealed his own HIV diagnosis in 2021, he said he’d “had a lot of time to sit back and observe the lights that came before me and burned out too soon. I’ve had a lot of time to investigate why, and the answer for me always circled back around to authenticity. … The truth is the healing. And I hope this frees me.”

Porter, an ambassador for The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation, received organization’s Commitment to End AIDS Award in 2021, for his role in fighting and advocating to end the disease. The award is given in the memory of Taylor’s legacy of compassion and courage while at the forefront of the movement to help people affected by HIV.

The Carnegie Mellon University alum is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Entertainment Community Fund (formerly The Actors Fund) and has worked closely with the organization for several decades, “embodying the passionate commitment of the organization to help everyone involved in performing arts and entertainment, including performers and those behind the scenes.” He is an outspoken activist for the LGBTQ+ and BIPOC communities through his work with several organizations including Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, HRC (Human Rights Campaign), GLAAD and Planned Parenthood. Recognitions for his advocacy and efforts to promote equality for the LGBTQ+ community have included the Michael Kors Award for Outstanding Community Service at the 2021 Golden Heart Awards and the GLAAD Vito Russo Award in 2017.

Among Porter’s film credits are his directorial debut in the Pittsburgh-shot Anything’s Possible. Upcoming, he will co-write and star in a James Baldwin biopic. Porter released his first literary project, the autobiography Unprotected (Abrams Press) in October 2021. As a recording artist, Porter most recently released his album “Black Mona Lisa,” under his record deal with Island Records (UK) and Republic Records (US). 

The 77th Annual Tony Awards, hosted by Ariana DeBose, will air live from the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York City on Sunday, June 16, 2024, at 8 p.m., on the CBS Television Network, and streaming on Paramount+ in the United States.