Billy Porter To Star In James Baldwin Biopic

Billy Porter has signed on to portray author and civil rights activist James Baldwin in an upcoming biopic he’s co-writing alongside Dan McCabe. The film will be based on the 1994 book James Baldwin: A Biography by David Leeming, an emeritus professor of English who was Baldwin’s friend and assistant for 25 years.

Born in Harlem in 1924, Baldwin was a Black gay writer whose influential works include Go Tell It on the Mountain, Notes of a Native Son, and If Beale Street Could Talk. In addition to writing, Baldwin fought for racial justice in the U.S. civil rights movement and became one of the most influential figures of the 20th century.

Porter says it has been a career-long dream to tell the story of Baldwin on 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. I stand on James Baldwin‘s shoulders, and I intend to expand his legacy for generations to come.”

Porter previously won an Emmy award for Pose and a Tony for producing A Strange Loop. If this currently untitled biopic goes well, he could be adding the third piece of a potential EGOT to his mantelpiece.

He also recently made his directorial debut with coming-of-age film Anything’s Possible, and has already lined up his next gig – queer teen comedy To Be Real from Gabrielle Union‘s I’ll Have Another Productions.

McCabe is a screenwriter but is currently most notable as a playwright, having written The Purists – which Porter directed. The duo also worked together on original Peacock series Fruits of Thy Labour, so they know each other well. The Home, another screenplay McCabe has written, is currently in development as a film at Paramount.

There’s no additional information on the Baldwin biopic, but it’s a good time to make a film about him as his work has been in the cultural consciousness over the last seven years thanks to Barry Jenkins‘ adaptation of If Beale Street Could Talk and Raoul Peck‘s documentary I Am Not Your Negro. Hopefully this biopic will do justice to an important man.


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