Billy Porter to Star in and Produce James Baldwin Biopic

Billy Porter and James Baldwin (Credit: Shutterstock and YouTube)

Billy Porter will play legendary playwright and activist James Baldwin in an upcoming biopic for Byron Allen’s Allen Media Group Motion Pictures.

The Emmy-winning Pose actor and Dan McCabe will adapt the script from David Leeming’s 1994 book James Baldwin: A Biography, Allen Media Group announced Wednesday.

Leeming is an emeritus professor at the University of Connecticut and was Baldwin’s assistant.

Born in Harlem in 1924, Baldwin was a gay, African-American writer known for his influential works that included Go Tell It on the Mountain, Notes of a Native Son, Another Country, The Fire Next Time, Giovanni’s Room, and If Beale Street Could Talk, which was adapted into an Oscar-winning 2018 film from Barry Jenkins.

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Leeming’s book offered a portrait of a complex, troubled, driven, and brilliant man who faced public pressure as he called for racial justice, and brought stories to the forefront centering on race, equality, and gay themes.

The biopic on his life will be executive produced by Byron Allen, Carolyn Folks, Jennifer Lucas, Matthew Signer, and Chris Charalambous.

“We at Allen Media Group Motion Pictures are extremely passionate about sharing James Baldwin’s phenomenal story with the world,” Byron Allen, founder, chairman and CEO of Allen Media Group, said in a statement. “Billy Porter and Dan McCabe’s talent and commitment to amplifying James Baldwin’s legacy and contributions are invaluable and unmatched for this unique and epic story.”

Billy Porter and D.J. Gugenheim of Incognegro Productions are set to produce the feature film.

“As a Black queer man on this planet with relative consciousness I find myself, like James Baldwin said, ‘in a rage all the time.’ I am because James was,” Porter stated. “I stand on James Baldwin’s shoulders, and I intend to expand his legacy for generations to come.”

Porter won a 2013 Tony Award for his role in Kinky Boots. He also took home a Grammy Award for the Kinky Boots album. The actor won an Emmy in 2019 for his work in Pose, becoming the first openly gay Black man to win in any lead acting category at the Primetime Emmys.

Dan McCabe is an award-winning writer and playwright based in New York.