Pray Tell is an emcee and ball scene elder in the show Pose. Also known as Prayerful, Pray Tell plays an important role in helping the House of Evangelista. He also supports his ball community as its members grapple with the toll brought on by the AIDS Crisis, even when Pray Tell himself is struggling with the disease.
Pray Tell is the glue that keeps much of the ball scene’s various members together. But who plays this iconic character? Here’s what you need to know.
Who plays Pray Tell in Pose?
Pray Tell is depicted by established actor, singer, and Broadway performer Billy Porter.
Born in Pittsburgh and raised in a “very religious” Pentecostal family, Porter is the first openly gay Black man to be nominated for any lead acting role in the Primetime Emmys, having won the 2019 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for his performance.
Like his character in Pose, Porter is also HIV-positive. In a May 2021 interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Porter said of his status: “Yes, I am the statistic, but I’ve transcended it. This is what HIV-positive looks like now.”
Porter is known to be extremely fashion-forward, regarding his signature looks as a form of political art. In a January 2020 piece for Vanity Fair, his former stylist Sam Ratelle estimated that they had worked on 150 red-carpet looks together, many designed by Porter himself. Among his many noteworthy red-carpet outfits was his appearance in a Christian Siriano velvet tux-gown combination at the 91st Academy Awards, engendering conversations about fashion and masculinity in the mainstream press and on social media.
Among his other roles, Porter also appeared as Behold Chablis in American Horror Story: Apocalypse and Lola in the Broadway musical Kinky Boots. He credited his Tony Award-winning performance in the latter for “releasing me so that I could express myself,” helping him break “from the shackles of what toxic masculinity has been for me,” as he told Good Morning America.
A younger Pray Tell was also depicted by Jordan Aaron Hall.