Pose without Pray Tell? That’s what almost happened.
Ryan Murphy and Billy Porter recently sat down together at New York’s 92nd Street Y to discuss the award-winning FX series. They even spilled some tidbits about how Murphy came to cast Porter in his Emmy-nominated role, revealing that Pose’s house balls almost didn’t have their flamboyant host.
“Two years ago this week, Billy Porter came into a room to audition for a part that did not exist,” Murphy told the audience. “There was no Pray Tell on the page. I had known about Billy’s work for a long time, and I kept saying to our casting director, ’We have got to find a way to get Billy Porter on our show.’”
“There was no real part for him,” Murphy continued. “There was a role called ’The MC’ that had two lines in the pilot. So I said to my fellow writers, Steven Canals and Brad Falchuk, ’I’m going to have Billy come in and you’re going to see what I know, and then we’re going to talk.’”
“After Billy left the room after that audition we were all like, ’Holy shit!’ So we created this role of Pray Tell for him. Just based on what he did [that day]. All he did was come in and talk for 20 minutes about how mad he was about Trump and what was going on in the world.”
Porter then revealed that in the original script Pray was a perfume spritzer at Macy’s. We haven’t gotten to see it yet, but Murphy told the audience that he is saving Pray’s spritzing day job for a future arc.
“A lot of the first two seasons that we’ve done have been about dealing with the crisis, dealing with the ballroom scene,” Murphy explained. “As the second season has gone along you know more a little more about the backstories. What I have been saving it for is I’m really interested in this idea that Pray Tell spritzes cologne… but someone in the spritzing world sees how you look and says, ’You should be a designer, Pray Tell…’ So we will be doing that… and we’re also gonna have Pray Tell go to church.”
Porter also noted that he will be sitting in the director’s chair for a future episode, but when an audience member asked how Pray pays his rent, even Porter was stumped: “I don’t know,” he responded with a laugh.
Check out the full conversation below.