Charles Frederick Porter is an actor, author, model and former collegiate student-athlete. At 31 years young, he faced the very real possibility of death. Porter became one of the 14 million people that is diagnosed with cancer each year. After tackling life’s most challenging opponent head-on and winning, he’s not just a survivor. Porter is a victor and is now living a more authentic version of himself.
Porter would be the first to admit that before his diagnosis, he lived life without a care. “I think I’m a better guy. A guy that I actually like now,” says Porter. “I didn’t like everything about me before I got sick. I was a huge partier. I would throw out $3000 on the table and say, ‘What are we doing tonight?’ I was partying with people I didn’t know. It was totally ignorant. I feel like I have a better purpose now. I have gotten back to what I have always wanted to do since my youth. That’s having a positive effect on the world.”
"No matter what you are doing in life, you haven’t failed or succeeded as long as you don’t quit."
He was blessed with good looks, a winning personality and above average athletic abilities; and though they separated when he was young, he had two loving parents who made sure he was given the best. That included a topnotch education.
“My mom was from east London and she didn’t have a refrigerator until she was 12 years old. My dad was born and raised in Baltimore, one of nine kids. He was the patriarch of the family. Both of my parents know what struggle is,” he says. “My parents know that education is what separates you from the pack.” It is the blend of athleticism and intellect that helped Porter land a football scholarship to Duke University.
Surprisingly, acting was not a career path the thespian ever considered. Porter was certain that he would become a professional football player. After suffering a back injury he was forced to reevaluate his options. He considered teaching anthropology, and even spent a short time with a marketing firm. After being asked several times if he had ever considered acting, Porter decided to try his hand at it.
“It was Janae Hayes, who played basketball for Duke. It was her mom. She came up to me after graduation and she said, ‘Charles, you’re a very charismatic young man. Have you ever thought about acting?’ I said, ‘No I haven’t but I said to myself if one more person came and told me that I should do it, I’m going to go do it. And you are that person.’ I packed two bags, found an apartment in L.A. on Craigslist and here we are 12 years later,” says Porter.
Porter did not relocate to Los Angeles with the unrealistic notion that opportunities would be handed to him, but six months after moving, he was granted an unbelievable opportunity that helped launch his acting career. “I didn’t go with any false expectations. I knew I wasn’t going to be walking down the street and Steven Spielburg was going to pull over and say, ‘Hey. Are you an actor?’ But almost six months to the date, I got an opportunity to do a two week stint of ESPN’s ‘Beg, Borrow and Deal’. I took it and I never looked back,” says Porter.
"Little did I know that I was actually getting my body in shape to fight cancer."
The year 2010 was well on its way to being Porter’s best year to date. He had been in a tremendous amount of pain for a while, but thought it was normal because of his history as a football player. One day the pain became too unbearable. He had no choice but to report to the ER. After 15 hours of testing, and loved ones by his side, the doctors gave him the news that he had cancer.
He was completely taken aback by the diagnosis. “It was the most successful year of my acting career. I had just done a huge spread in Italian Vogue. Two weeks before I got the news, I had just signed with William Morris agency. Ari Emanuel himself called me,” he says. “I was in the best shape of my life. I was running up Runyon Canyon every day. I was jumping rope for 20 plus minutes straight without missing a beat. I thought that I was trying to get my body right for acting roles and modeling campaigns. Little did I know that I was actually getting my body in shape to fight cancer.”
Porter recalls only one time when he was ready to give up. His condition was so serious that his mother felt it a necessary shield him from the severity of it all. “Later my mother told me that I was covered with tumors. I had two broken ribs on each side. I thought the pain was from football injuries. I was that naïve to the fact that I was dying,” says Porter. “I said to my mom, ‘I can’t do this anymore.’ She said, ‘One more day. Just one more day.’ It was actually two days, but that’s what got me through. And here we are almost three years later in remission.”
After chemo, the bone marrow transplant and a little time off, Porter is slowly migrating back into the workforce. “I just finished a book of poems entitled ‘Get to Know: Unlocking the Essence of You. It pretty much focuses on the last five years of my life,” says Porter. “My mother was the first person to call me a poet. Poetry helped me get through this.
I’ve created two pilots and I’m slowly getting back into the swing of things. I completed a film about the first black NASCAR driver by the name of Wendall Scott called ‘Wendell Scott: A Race Story.’ He died of Cancer so because of my experience, I really connected to the story. It’s now an ESPN classic.” He also just finished the film, “Battered”, which is set to be released later this year.
Porter plans to continue his career in entertainment, but he has since rediscovered a different passion. One that he had not really thought about since he was a child. “I try to find positivity in everything that I do. I always try to find the silver lining. It’s a blessing to have gone through something like this. You can really give advice knowing that you actually know some things. My work is so much deeper because of what I’ve gone through. I can get into the trenches with people because of what I’ve been through."
Porter says that he now lives by two simple mottos. “I have this saying tattooed on my back, ‘Never Quit’ No matter what you are doing in life, you haven’t failed or succeeded as long as you don’t quit,” says Porter. “And the other is One Love. I have that tattooed on my wrist.” He has come to the realization that we are all in this thing together.