Q&A with Errol Service Jr.

The first-year musical theater student is the inaugural recipient of the Billy Porter Scholarship Award.

April 27, 2021

Errol Service Jr. is the inaugural recipient of the Billy Porter Scholarship Award, which is given to an outstanding student in the B.F.A. in Theater: Musical Theater program who demonstrates exceptional potential. The scholarship is named for Billy Porter, an award-winning performer and star of the television series Pose. Porter received an honorary doctorate from Boston Conservatory in 2018, and frequently directs in the Boston area, including The Purists (2019) and Topdog/Underdog (2017) at the nearby Huntington Theatre Company. Service looks back at his first year at the Conservatory and talks about the theater artists who inspire him, including Porter.

What made you fall in love with musical theater?

Hamilton is the show that slowly put me on a path towards musical theater. My orchestra teacher introduced me to the original Broadway cast recording and never let me hear the end of it…Eventually, I began to realize the senses of complexity, togetherness, and individuality that can come with musicals and theater in general. This is what really led to my true love for the art form.

Who are your musical theater role models and why?

Leslie Odom Jr. is everything I want to become when it comes to singing, dancing, and acting. While I am very adamant about staying on my own artistic path, I consistently find myself wanting to achieve his silky vocals, authentic acting, and powerful dance skills. On a more personal level, I would say Antonio Cipriano who plays Phoenix in Jagged Little Pill. I went to high school with Antonio and he became a sort of mentor for me. When participating in productions with him, he showed me his love and devotion to musical theater. His success at such a young age inspires me to keep pushing forward on my own journey.

What do you admire about Billy Porter?

What I love about Billy Porter is his ability to fully ignore the part of his mind that propels people to be affected by what others think of him. He goes through life in his own, unique, beautiful, fierce way. He is an icon not only in the theater community but the LGBTQIA+ community. He inspires me and many other young artists to embrace their individualities and make our own bold choices.

Why did you choose to attend Boston Conservatory at Berklee?

I chose to attend BoCo because of the people! I’ll never forget my college search process. I was looking around YouTube for videos of different schools and found this channel called “BoCo Vlogs” run by the musical theater class of 2021. Those authentic looks into Conservatory life sold the school for me. I loved the sense of community within the musical theater classes and ever since I’ve arrived here, I have felt more and more connected to this community.

What excited you most about your first year at Boston Conservatory?

My growth as an artist has been extremely exciting. Through my training so far, I have been noticing beautiful strides in my acting voice, my singing voice, and my physical expression. I am also a really big fan of how these three skill sets can be brought together to help tell a beautiful story. Whether it’s in a scene assignment in an acting lab or a minute-long dance combo in jazz class, there’s always a story to tell with every academic experience here and I love it.

What surprised you most about your first year?

Something that surprised me during my first year at BoCo is how much I’ve been able to achieve artistically in my class and in the Theater Division as a whole. I came to BoCo assuming that my first year would solely be time for me to catch up to the students who have been doing musical theater their entire lives. I have been acting for seven years, singing for four, and this is my first year of dance training. However, I have already had the honor of being included in performance opportunities like Tarell Alvin McCraney’s The Brother’s Size and The Fire This Time cabaret. The future is bright!