Billy Porter Says He’s Been Forced To Sell House Due To Strikes

Add Billy Porter to the list of thousands financially affected by the SAG-AFTRA and WGA strikes, following the revelation that the actor will have to sell his house, at an extremely precarious moment for entertainment workers.

“I have to sell my house… Because we’re on strike. And I don’t know when we’re gonna go back [to work],” said Porter in an interview with Evening Standard, in support of his music career. “The life of an artist, until you make f**k-you money — which I haven’t made yet — is still cheque-to-cheque. I was supposed to be in a new movie and on a new television show starting in September. None of that is happening.”

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Continued Porter, with reference to a July Deadline article quoting an anonymous exec on the WGA strike, “So to the person who said, ‘We’re going to starve them out until they have to sell their apartments’ — you’ve already starved me out.”

The actor’s comments come just under 100 days into the writers guild’s strike against studios and streamers, which wouldn’t agree to the terms of the new film and TV contract it has been pursuing. The thesps are themselves 26 days into their own labor dispute.

Porter highlighted his personal situation in part to dispute a notion of the actors strike among “some lay people” — that it’s simply about “a bunch of millionaires trying to get more millions,” rather than about cementing the financial security of the many in the working class.

The actor lamented that while the industry once arranged its deals to “allow for” its performers to make a decent living, that same prospect has become impossible following the streaming boom. “There’s no contract for [streaming]…And they don’t have to be transparent with the numbers — it’s not Nielsen ratings anymore,” he explained. “The streaming companies are notoriously opaque with their viewership figures. The business has evolved. So the contract has to evolve and change, period.”

Porter also took aim in the piece at the July 13th comments of Disney CEO Bob Iger, who while at the Sun Valley Conference, called the WGA and SAG-AFTRA unrealistic in their demands, expressing the belief that their steadfast commitment to their deal points has been “very disruptive” to an industry already weakened by Covid.

“To hear Bob Iger say that our demands for a living wage are unrealistic? While he makes $78,000 a day? I don’t have any words for it, but: f**k you,” said Porter. “That’s not useful, so I’ve kept my mouth shut. I haven’t engaged because I’m so enraged… When I go back [to the states from London] I will join the picket lines.”

Best known for making history at the Emmys, as the first openly gay Black man to win Drama Lead Actor with Pose, Porter will next be seen starring opposite Luke Evans in the custody battle drama Our Son, which world premiered at this year’s Tribeca Festival. Also coming up for him is a James Baldwin biopic he’ll co-write and star in for Byron Allen’s Allen Media Group Motion Pictures, which was announced back in April.

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