Malike Sidibe
May 23, 2022 6:25 AM EDT

When I saw Michael R. Jackson’s musical A Strange Loop off-Broadway, I saw myself in the lead character of Usher. It was the first time I had ever seen a contemporary musical investigate this particular human being—from his feelings of unworthiness to his relationship with his Tyler Perry–loving, churchgoing mother. I felt so inspired.

When Jackson wrote this play, he was saying: I have to lean in to my authenticity and my truth, even though there’s nothing in the market that would encourage me to do so. The manifestation of him doing that is remarkable. My hope is that it will bring a shift in consciousness in terms of where people put their money and what stories are put forward. It gives hope for people like me whose stories have been undervalued for so long.

To have a musical about a Black, overweight, out queer man is the change. And this year, it’s the one with the most Tony nominations. So Michael: thank you for being brave and bold, from the bottom of my heart.

Porter is a Tony- and Emmy Award–winning actor

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