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Billy Porter Slams Critics Over Upcoming Role In James Baldwin Biopic

Billy Porter is hitting back at critics who are doubting that he can pull off portraying James Baldwin in the upcoming biopic he's also co-writing and producing.

Here's what he told Tamron Hall on her show on Wednesday when she asked him what he had to say to people who are skeptical of him taking on the role.

"First and foremost, the internet has created a space where it's made people think that their opinion matters at all," Porter said. "I am 53 years old and I've dedicated my life to my art and my craft. Question me at your own peril."

He continued, "Call it whatever you want, arrogant… I've worked hard for this, and my mantra — and I say it all the time — I do not now, nor will I ever, adjudicate my life or humanity in sound bites on social media. I'm going to focus on the work — that's all I can do. People have been doubting me my whole life. This ain't nothing new."

Porter also told Hall that the movie is in it's infant stage, with the script, which he's penning with Dan McCabe, still in progress. He also revealed his inspiration for the project, citing Baldwin's writing with saving his life when he was a young queer man.

"James Baldwin and his work and what he represented in the world, everything, he's one of the first people who I saw who looked like me, who represented me in the fullness: Black, queer, and present," Porter explained. "I'm alive because I was able to see him in my early 20s, and I met an English professor about a couple of years back who didn't know who he was — an English professor, at a college, teaching English at a college, who didn't know who James Baldwin was. This is unacceptable. It's completely unacceptable."

The script will be adapted from David Leeming's 1994 book James Baldwin: A Biography.

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