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Billy Porter Embraces His Music Moment With ‘Black Mona Lisa’: ‘The World Was Not Ready for This in 1997’

Billy Porter has always blazed his own trail in Hollywood. And now, the music world is finally catching up.

In a new interview with Billboard News‘ Tetris Kelly, the actor/musician talks about his latest album, last month’s Black Mona Lisa, and why now was the time to release his most ambitious music project yet.

“The world was not ready for this in 1997,” Porter tells Billboard News, referencing the year he put out his debut self-titled solo album. “And I understand that, and I am so grateful that I have been blessed to live long enough to see the day when my authenticity has become my superpower.

“There was no place for me and there were energies and forces in the business, gatekeepers, that made sure that I didn’t cross over,” he adds.

He also looks back at people telling him along the way to “just be himself” as he fought for a career in Hollywood and in music.

“We throw around this ‘authenticity’ thing,” Porter says. “‘Oh just be who you are. Just be who you are!’ It’s easy to ‘be who you are’ when what you are is what’s popular. What what do you do when the ‘who you are’ is reviled or rejected and there’s no place or space for you? You make the place and the space for yourself.”

That’s what he’s done with Black Mona Lisa, which includes a duet with Lady Blackbird and co-writing from Grammy-nominated songwriter Justin Tranter. Watch a behind-the-scenes video for the title track below, and watch Billboard News‘ full interview with Porter above.

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