First-Time Tony Nominee: Billy Porter kicks up his ‘Kinky Boots’ and earns a long-awaited Tony nod

Billy Porter.

Billy Porter.

For anyone who’s seen Billy Porter as Lola in Kinky Boots, his Tony nomination for “Best Leading Actor in a Musical” can’t come as a surprise. Lola is the drag queen who swoops in to help out a young business owner, Charlie Price (Stark Sands), with his struggling shoe factory and soon Lola and Charlie team up to start producing footwear for drag artists rather than men’s business shoes.

Porter plays Lola perfectly: he commands the stage with ease and warmth, engaging the audience with a big voice and a winning smile as he prances through the show. It’s a big role that requires a big personality and Porter delivers with unmatchable charisma.

This may be Porter’s first Tony nomination but he has a long history of performing, both on stage and on screen. Most notably, he played the Teen Angel in the 1994 Grease revival and Judas in the 1998 cast of Jesus Christ Superstar. In addition, he has also released two albums, Billy Porter (1997) and At the Corner of Broadway + Soul (2005).

Porter has some stiff competition in this category, including his co-star Stark Sands and Matilda’s Bertie Carvel, but he’s certainly a strong contender and is a great crowd favorite after he recently picked up a Broadway.com Audience Choice Award for “Favorite Actor in a Musical.” It’ll most likely come down to Porter and Carvel, who was excellent in Matilda, but Porter has the edge. His portrayal of Lola is truly a standout performance and will be remembered for years to come.

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