Culture / Film

Billy Porter is currently working on a James Baldwin biopic

james baldwin billy porter

If there's one reason we're yet to see a James Baldwin biopic on our screens, it's down to the strong desire to do justice to the life and legacy of a man who meant so much to so many. Baldwin, a Black, gay man born in Harlem during a segregated America, through a life dedicated to writing (at one point from the vantage point of Paris), managed to eloquently capture the experience of racial and sexual oppression in the US. Like so many, actor Billy Porter has found solace and strength in Baldwin's works, and has long expressed the desire to work on a biopic centring the author and civil rights activist. According to Varietyplans to bring this biopic to the light are now in motion.

With the help of Dan McCabe who will oversee the script and production by Byron Allen’s Media Group Pictures, Billy Porter is reimagining the life of James Baldwin for the screen, using David Leeming's 1994 book James Baldwin: A Biography as the foundation of the project.

On top of his duties overseeing the project, Porter will also star as Baldwin, in a bid to create an intimate portrait that represents the iconoclast in all his complexities and brilliance.

In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, Porter explained his passion for the project. “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," he continued. "I stand on James Baldwin’s shoulders, and I intend to expand his legacy for generations to come."

For those who have yet to read the works of James Baldwin, he famously authored Giovanni's Room, a novel that trails an American as he begins a secret affair with an Italian bartender in Paris. His other works – Go Tell it on the Mountain, The Fire Next Time, Notes of a Native Son, and If Beale Street Could Talk – are formative texts in documenting racial inequality and violence in America and across the globe.

At present, there is no date set for when we can expect to see the biopic in theatres. However, actor Chris Chalk will debut his own performance of James Baldwin in Ryan Murphy's upcoming Feud series, which focuses on the fallout between Truman Capote and his high-society "swans".

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Images: @theebillyporter; pinterest