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  • -Hello! -Thank you, and welcome.

  • Look at you.

  • You always have something.

  • I want to thank you again for being here,

  • 'cause you were here back in April.

  • -Yeah.

  • -And so much has changed since then.

  • Obviously, you're now back filming season three of "Pose."

  • -Yes. -How is it going?

  • -It's wild. It's crazy.

  • I'm excited to be back.

  • We're all glad to be back.

  • Disney, who now owns FX, has put brilliant protocols in place.

  • Everybody looks like a stormtrooper.

  • -[ Laughs ] -I feel so sorry for the crew,

  • because they have to have goggles and masks and shields.

  • -They have that here, too, I agree.

  • -But that allows for us to be able to go to work.

  • This is a wild, crazy time.

  • And I'm just grateful that there are people

  • who care enough to take the right steps,

  • to believe science and get us back to work.

  • -You were nominated for another Emmy this year.

  • And even though it was virtual,

  • you still showed up and delivered with awesome style.

  • Look at that, come on, now. -Ah!

  • -Come on, now. -Yes.

  • -What is the piano?

  • -Okay, so, I'm working with a new stylist,

  • Ty Hunter of Beyoncé fame.

  • And he and his assistant Colin showed up on Emmy day

  • with a piano that they had found the night before on Craigslist

  • and spray-painted white. -I love it.

  • -And they brought a backdrop and a photographer,

  • and they came out to my front yard,

  • and we took some photos, darling.

  • -I love that you did that.

  • You know, I don't know if anyone else did that

  • for, like, a virtual event.

  • So that was pretty cool that you did that.

  • -It was my first.

  • It was my first, because I hadn't been doing

  • any virtual red carpets through the entire quarantine.

  • And I just thought this will pack a punch,

  • because I'm nominated for an Emmy.

  • It's a big deal.

  • And I haven't been doing them. -Yeah.

  • And I bet you everyone has been calling

  • and asking, "Will Billy show up?

  • And will Billy do something for us?

  • Will he get the hat? Will he do something?"

  • And you go, "Yeah, just chill.

  • I'll take care of business." -Yeah.

  • I wasn't doing it because the moment that we're in

  • didn't make me feel like doing anything like that.

  • -Yeah. I agree.

  • -You know, and so I just wanted to be respectful.

  • -Yeah. -And I think, you know,

  • having six months of not doing that, you know,

  • and then embracing it for the moment,

  • which was the Emmys, was a good thing.

  • -And it made people happy. -Yes.

  • -And you see the things that we miss, and you go,

  • "Aw, I miss that." -Yes.

  • -Sadly, you know, Broadway announced

  • that it will be shut down through June,

  • which is just awful.

  • You think about this.

  • You've been doing a lot to celebrate Broadway,

  • as we wait for it to come back.

  • One of your early Broadway roles was Teen Angel in "Grease,"

  • and you posted a photo of your first time

  • on "The Tonight Show."

  • Here it is. -[ Laughs ]

  • -What do you remember about this?

  • -I remember that we were on tour

  • with the pre-Broadway production of "Grease,"

  • that starred Rosie O'Donnell and Megan Mullally.

  • -Megan Mullally? -Pre-"Will & Grace."

  • -I did not know that. -And we were in Costa Mesa,

  • and "The Tonight Show" was going to have us,

  • and they came to the show, and they saw the whole show.

  • And they chose my number.

  • And so I ended up being able to go on.

  • And then it was a surprise, because after the number,

  • Jay Leno paneled me, which was a big deal.

  • Because, like, I wasn't supposed to go and talk.

  • I was just supposed to be a musical guest and sing.

  • -And you scored. -Yes.

  • -There's this trend online right now, I just recently did,

  • where people share photos and they go how it started,

  • and how it's going.

  • And people are doing it. You've been having fun with it.

  • You made one just for us tonight.

  • -Yes. -Let's take a look at this.

  • Now, that is how it started, which I have questions about.

  • -[ Laughs ] -I see how it's going.

  • Let's start with how it's going.

  • Where was that? Was that "Kinky Boots"?

  • -That was "Kinky Boots," 2013, the Tony Awards.

  • -Oh, come on.

  • -So that was the original dream come true.

  • The dream that I started having

  • when you see me on the left over there.

  • -Now, what was happening when you're on the left over there?

  • How old are you? -Okay, so, I am 13 years old.

  • I was at Reizenstein Middle School.

  • I had discovered musical theater in the sixth grade.

  • I was in the eighth grade.

  • And I figured,

  • here I've spent the last two years playing second banana.

  • So I'm going to be the star of the show.

  • The show was announced. It's "Oliver."

  • I went to the library.

  • I took out the cast album.

  • I learned "Where Is Love?"

  • I came, I sang, I did my audition.

  • The cast list goes up, and it says Oliver Twist --

  • Eric Pearson.

  • Well, I storm into the director's office.

  • Mr. Ken Lutz,

  • who was the instrumental teacher,

  • who I'm still friends with to this day.

  • And I was like, "How dare you?"

  • You know, like, I went off on him.

  • And he said, "Billy, Billy, Billy, you, Fagin."

  • If anybody knows "Oliver Twist," I was cast as Fagin.

  • Fagin is really the star of the show.

  • Fagin is really the lead. And I was like, "Okay."

  • He said, "Well, take the script home and read it."

  • Well, of course, at 13, you're just counting your lines.

  • And Fagin, I was just counting my lines.

  • And Fagin doesn't even enter

  • until the last scene of the first act.

  • I was like, "How are you going to tell me

  • I'm the lead of a show named 'Oliver'

  • and I'm not playing Oliver?"

  • -[ Laughs ]

  • -But that is when I discovered

  • the power of a star entrance, darling.

  • Because the children were waiting for me!

  • I didn't realize it was that. -[ Laughing ] Oh, my God.

  • -I didn't understand that.

  • -Oh, my gosh. This is ridiculous.

  • -The children were waiting for me.

  • At 13, I arrived on the stage to applause, darling.

  • -The children were waiting for you.

  • Oh, my gosh.

  • I don't think there's anything more --

  • you get that special feeling when a kid is doing "Oliver,"

  • and they sing "Where Is Love?"

  • Just, like, the voice, and it's just so little.

  • -Yeah, but for me, I'm reviewing the situation,

  • an octave up in a Pittsburgh/cockney accent.

  • There is video. I don't know where it is.

  • But I'm sure somebody will post it now

  • when they see this.

  • -Next time you come on, we got to play that.

  • -It's out there somewhere. [ Laughs ]

  • -Billy, you've also been using your platform

  • to encourage people to vote.

  • -Yes.

  • -Like your beautiful blazer says.

  • And be active.

  • I know last time you were on, we talked about your version of

  • "For What It's Worth." -Yes.

  • -Man, oh, man, did it explode. Everyone loved it.

  • It ended up being on Obama's summer playlist.

  • -Yes.

  • -Did you freak out? You go, "Wait. Wow."

  • -It's just -- It's astonishing.

  • I've been an independent artist for a long time.

  • I had a R&B record deal back in the late '90s,

  • and they dismissed me.

  • So I've been on my own.