By Gary M. Kramer–
Billy Porter brings style and verve to his directorial debut with upbeat romance Everything is possible. The film, which was released July 22 on Prime Video, has trans teenager Kelsa (trans actress Eva Reign) falling in love with her schoolmate Khal (Abubakr Ali). Their relationship is sweet, but it causes problems for Kelsa with her friend, Em (Courtnee Carter), and Kelsa’s overprotective mother, Selene (Renée Elise Goldsberry). Also, Selene gets upset when one of her daughter’s videos about being trans goes viral.
Porter’s film, written by Ximena García Lecuona, brings out some gender highlights – there’s a subplot about Kelsa being asked to use a gender-neutral bathroom (in the basement) – as well as about how trans youth adapt and navigate friendships and relationships. Fortunately, Everything is possible never feels preachy. Reign imbues Kelsa with charm and self-esteem, and Khal is a really nice guy who cares too much about others and learns to care more about himself.
The film also features fabulous costumes and fun sequences at the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens as well as the Warhol Museum.
In a recent Zoom interview, Porter told me about the San Francisco Bay Times about his entertaining new movie.
Gary M. Kramer: Why did you choose this project for your directorial debut? What makes it “a Billy Porter movie”?
Billy Porter: This project chose me. I chose myself decades ago. I have been living authentically for decades now. When the producers, Christine Vachon, David Hinojosa, DJ Gugenheim and Andrew Lauren, received this script from their intern, Ximena, apparently I was the first person that came to mind, so it found me .
Gary M. Kramer: You have a fun style here, smooth camera work and lively editing, but you also do emotional moments, like a scene between Khal and his mother Selda (Miriam Laube), well. Can you tell us about your energy and your approach to materials? And there’s a fabulous dance scene during the end credits!
Billy Porter: I have a personality. I have a voice and a language that belong to me. I brought my team – my hairstylist, my makeup artist, my DP, my costume designer and my set designer – and we talked about making it visually festive. We wanted the celebration of transited and the joy of transited to be visual as well. That’s how I approached it.
Gary M. Kramer: When I was a teenager, there were too few queer films and certainly nothing like that. What can you say about the importance of visibility and representation, especially for queer youth?
Billy Porter: What I’ve been talking about recently is that with all the devastating news we’re experiencing, the focus is on the negative. What we are not talking about is that progress has already been made. This is why the repression is so severe. Progress was cemented in the culture. Like you said, a movie like this didn’t exist when we were growing up. There is now!
Gary M. Kramer: You are one of the few black filmmakers, gay or straight, working behind the camera these days. What can you say about artistic creation?
Billy Porter: As artists, we have the power to hold a mirror up to society and hold society accountable through stories, music, visual arts, books – we can do that. We are healers. Toni Morrison said: “This is precisely when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no place for fear. We speak, we write, we make language. This is how civilizations heal. This film is a representation of it.
Gary M. Kramer: Film is basically about defying the expectations that are placed upon us, whether it’s gender roles, racial/ethnic expectations, and other factors. Can you talk about the importance of this both in the film and in life in general?
Billy Porter: Representation allows those of us who do not feel seen, those of us who feel alone, to understand that we are not. It also teaches others outside the margins – very often the oppressors – what it feels like to be us. This is the power of art. We have the power to reach into people’s hearts and change the molecular structure from within, and I’m very proud that this film does that. This film is about the normalization of the other. He is. When people see this, the hope is that there is an easing, a retreat of tolerance, a retreat of acceptance. These words make me shiver. My goal is to help people understand that we can agree to disagree, but we are all humans first, and respect for each other’s humanity comes first. Human equality. Tolerance and acceptance put the validation of our lives in someone else’s hands. It’s time for this to end.
Gary M. Kramer: What about the fabulous costumes and music I understand you produced?
Billy Porter: I wanted to create an ambitious tale of what the world could – and should – look like. And it has to look a certain way. I have an aesthetic and this is my film, so I tried to make that happen.
Gary M. Kramer: Kelsa talks about animals and how they are unique and able to survive. What animal are you?
Billy Porter: I’m a peacock, because they’re beautiful, but it’s like a no-brainer. I would also say a panther.
© 2022 Gary M. Kramer
Gary M. Kramer is the author of Independent Queer Cinema: Reviews and Interviews and co-editor of Directory of World Cinema: Argentina. Follow him on Twitter @garymkramer
Posted on July 28, 2022