Billy Porter will direct a queer teen comedy inspired by Superbad and Booksmart

Pray Tell us more (sorry).

by George Griffiths
21 August 2021, 12:44pm

Billy Thee Porter has signed on to direct a queer teenage comedy, in the vein of SuperBad and Booksmart, it’s been announced. 

As Variety first reported, the star will helm the project, called To Be Real which comes from Gabrielle Union’s production company I’ll Have Another.

Based on a script by On My Block director Ryan Shiraki, the film follows three queer friends who all escape their small hometown to attend Pride in New York. While in the city, they discover that “life over the rainbow is an insane, raunchy, often divisive, but ultimately fierce non-stop party.”

The word fierce is spelt as FIERCE in all-caps on the logline, in case you were wondering what the tone of this movie was going to be. Don’t think it’s a demure one. 

But it’s always good news when a new queer romcom is announced. Despite the release of Love, Simon in 2018 supposedly ushering in a new era of LGBTQ+ storytelling in a form that’s stereotypically been almost exclusively white and heteronormatice for decades, there hasn’t really been an influx of gay content in the movies. There was Kristen Stewart’s christmas queer rom-com, while the coming out subplot of Booksmart was very well done, and the Love, Simon TV spin-off Love, Victor does a better job of trying to encapsulate a fuller picture of the experiences of queer teen than its cinematic counterpart, but truly gay teen films are sadly still very much a rarity. 

In any case, the hiring of Billy will no doubt signpost to people that this will (hopefully!) not be a sanitised version of the lives of its queer characters. Thanks to his acclaimed run as ball MC Pray-Tell on Ryan Murphy’s Pose, Billy has become known for tender and oftentimes hilarious performances that really digs deep to the interior lives of LGBTQ+ people and their internal and external struggles. 

The actor is currently nominated for his third Emmy for his work as Pray Tell on the final season of Pose, which wrapped up earlier this year. In 2019, Billy became the first confirmed black gay man to win the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, again for his work on Pose

Billy will next be seen as the gener-neural Fairy Godmother, the Fab G in a re-telling of Cinderella (also for Amazon), starring Camila Cabello and James Corden, which seems like it’s going to be…fun? Well intentioned? 

To Be Real which, again, promises to be FIERCE will drop exclusively on Amazon Prime Video, with a shooting start date, cast and release date yet to be announced. 

Follow i-D on TikTok and Instagram for more film news.