‘Some Like It Hot’ Star J. Harrison Ghee Received Flowers and a Cheeky Note From Billy Porter After Tony Win

I’m on the phone with J. Harrison Ghee when they walk into their dressing room at the Shubert Theatre before Tuesday night’s performance of “Some Like It Hot.” It’s their first show since winning the Tony about 48 hours earlier, taking home the prize for leading actor in a musical for their work as Jerry/Daphne.

 “Oh, my God,” Ghee says. “There are a lot of flowers here.”

Then they sigh and choke up. “I can’t believe this,” says Ghee, who identifies as nonbinary. “Flowers from Billy Porter!”

The card reads, “Welcome to the club, bitch.”

I ask Ghee what it was liking waking up on Monday morning and realizing they were a Tony-winner. They also made history with “Shucked” star Alex Newell as the first nonbinary nominees to win acting Tonys on Sunday. “Well, I didn’t have much time to sleep,” they say. “I had to get to the White House.”

Ghee and their “Some Like It Hot” castmates Adrianna Hicks, NaTasha Yvette Williams and Kevin Del Aguila flew to Washington, D.C. on Monday. They received a tour of the White House and met with President Biden’s openly gay press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre as well as second gentleman Doug Emhoff to talk about visibility and representation of trans and nonbinary individuals.

Ghee handed their Tony to Emhoff. “He was like, ‘No, I can’t,’” Ghee says. “I was like, ‘Yes, you can. Come on, you’re the second gentleman. Give it a spin!’”

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In their acceptance speech at the Tonys, Ghee thanked their mother for “teaching me how to live, how to love, how to give.”

They also delivered a powerful message: “For every trans, nonbinary, gender-nonconforming human who ever was told you couldn’t be, you couldn’t be seen, this is for you.”

Ghee says they didn’t prepare a full speech beforehand. “I had to give my mother her flowers, of course,” they say, adding, “Then I had to speak to why I did this project, to be representation for people to know that anything was possible and for audiences to see the humanity and opportunities for people to break free of themselves and societal limits and boundaries.”

A group of nonbinary and trans youth from California recently attended a performance of “Some Like It Hot.” “One of them said to me, ‘I’ve never been so validated by a character,” Ghee says. “To see the hope in their face for the possibilities of their life was so incredibly humbling.”

Ghee recalls when they first arrived in New York City from their native South Carolina: “At the time, I didn’t know who Billy Porter was.”

Then they listened to Porter’s second album, “At the Corner of Broadway and Soul.” “I said, ‘This is somebody in the industry I could look up to, who looks like me and carries themselves with the energy that I have,’” Ghee says. “He called me yesterday as I was getting ready to fly to D.C. and was like, “I’m so proud of you.’ He was so congratulatory. To talk about being friends with him now, it’s nothing I could have imagined.”

Ghee now wants to imagine – well, manifest – starring in a movie or limited series adaptation of the “Some Like It Hot” musical. “If it’s a limited series, we can really dig into these characters a lot more and see the lives of them in such a beautiful way,” Ghee says. “That was the fun of getting to create this and show that this Black queer joy exists. These humans always existed. Their stories were just never told.”

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