Billy Porter plays Lola
Billy Porter won a 2013 Tony Award for his portrayal of Lola in 'Kinky Boots,' which is now on Broadway. (Getty Images)

Who is Billy Porter?

Billy Porter is a veteran singer and actor whose breakout performance in the Broadway hit musical Kinky Boots won him a 2013 Best Actor Tony Award. While Porter has delivered many riveting performances in roles for both the stage and screen — including groundbreaking shows such as Top Dog/Underdog and The Big C — it is his leading role as a feisty entertainer in need of the perfect heels that shot him to superstardom.

Why is he on theGrio’s 1oo?

By playing Lola in Kinky Boots, which took the 2013 Tony Award for Best Musical, Porter not only displayed his versatility as a master of stagecraft, he also created a nuanced, human portrayal of what he describes as a “gender illusionist” with heroic qualities. As Lola, Porter both entertained audiences with his bold talent and advanced acceptance for transgender people in grand style.

He was also part of an amazing year for African-Americans on Broadway. Following a banner season of successful shows on the Great White Way featuring black themes and black leads, Porter was one of five African-Americans to win Tony Awards in 2013, putting him in the same company as legendary actress Cicely Tyson, who won for her role in The Trip to Bountiful.

“It was a wonderful, historic year, and I felt blessed and honored to be a part of it,” Porter told Ebony.com.

What’s next for Porter?

In addition to pop culture accolades, such as being named to Out magazine’s list of most eligible gay bachelors, Porter will continue to represent the empowering image of self-acceptance and the beauty of diversity that he and the character of Lola represent.

As an openly gay man who has become an “unintentional role model” according to his Twitter description, Porter has honed his craft for years in order to embody this ideal.

“When who you are naturally is not only considered a sin but you’re reviled for being that human being and you don’t have any control over it, there are lots of issues that come into play,” Porter has said. “And it takes a lot of presence, determination, courage and space to figure out how to land in that truth regardless of what anyone around you thinks about it.”

Tickets will be on sale for Kinky Boots through January 2015.

Follow Billy Porter on Twitter @theebillyporter