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Billy Porter on Breaking Barriers in the Latest Cinderella Revival

Cinderella is the latest classic fairytale to be reimagined with modern audiences in mind. Featuring an all-star cast including Cuban-born American singer and songwriter Camila Cabello in the title role, broadway heavyweight Idina Menzel, and James Bond alum Pierce Brosnan, this bold, new rendition is sure to spark joy and guide the genre toward a more inclusive future. Debuting today on Amazon Prime Video, S/ caught up with the inimitable Billy Porter, who plays Cinderella’s fairy godparent Fab G. Here, the actor and singer reveals how it feels to star in this history-making revival and gives some sound advice on carving your own path.

How did it feel to play such a beloved and iconic character?

“It feels transformative, it feels important, and groundbreaking. I shot [Cinderella] a while ago, so to return to it now in this moment and to be receiving an enthusiastic reception is very inspiring and empowering. And I just hope that this piece is as special to the public as it’s been to all of us.”

How do you hope this reimagined interpretation of Cinderella will resonate with audiences today?

“Folks are empowered when we see ourselves reflected back, and this is a reflection for a large swath of people that aren’t always seen. We get to make the invisible visible with this casting choice and I am profoundly grateful and humbled to be in the position to be able to crack this open.”

“There’s various things that are classic—stories, fairytales, narratives—that are meant to present moral stories that teach us how to move through the world with clarity, grace, and humanity. Therefore, we have to hold these stories accountable, we have to hold these problematic tropes accountable, and Cinderella does that in so many ways. [Writer/director] Kay Cannon’s script and her vision is very diverse, and it does challenge these stereotypes and traditions that need to be blown apart; it’s exciting to be involved with something like that and to create this kind of conversation in the zeitgeist.”

This reimagined interpretation portrays Cinderella as an ambitious woman very focused on making her dream as a designer a reality and staying true to herself. And as someone who many look up to as an example of being authentic, what advice do you have for people who are trying to carve their own path?

“The first order of business is to make sure that you practice self-love, and then self-care, and then grounding yourself. Those things will allow you to enter into a space of just being able to put one foot in front of the other every day. There’s a balance of patience and action that needs to happen simultaneously for one to achieve their dreams. Speak life into yourself, do that consistently, and I mean every day, you have to speak it for it to have power and worth. Go for it, do the work.”

Fashion is a big theme in the movie. How have fashion and style influenced your creativity and approach to life? 

“I’ve always been a fashion person. I grew up in a household of first generation, post-civil rights movement Americans, where we were taught that the first impression is the only impression and that has everything to do with how you present yourself. I also grew up in a Black church, which is a fashion show in and of itself as we all know. I’ve always been acutely aware of that in my life. It’s only recently that I realized how powerful a tool it is in terms of show business and how I can use it to communicate a larger message. I am using it to create a conversation and to have the more complicated discussions that we need to have as human beings.”

Stream Cinderella on Amazon Prime Video on September 3rd and watch the trailer below.

Images courtesy of Amazon Studios.