Now, he's added three very notable parts to his resume: the hunky (and frequently unclothed) Nestor on the hit SyFy series Caprica; Randy in Dear John, the smash film adaptation of Nicholas Sparks' tearjerker; and the lead role of Tommy in The Good Guy, in which he plays a hot-shot Wall Street trader who ends up in a surprising romantic triangle (with Alexis Bledel and Bryan Greenberg). Despite the latter film's title, the question isn't just will he get the girl in the end, but does he deserve to? "There are enough levels in Tommy to keep audiences guessing about him," says Porter.
All of this success is especially remarkable for someone who never studied acting. "My high school in Florida didn't have the budget for drama classes. See, that's what happens when states cut arts budgets," he jokes. "I've been fortunate my entire career to work with outstanding performers, and I'm actually the type of person who learns more from watching than from being told. Plus, I grew up in a very musical family; my dad plays drums and my mom was a singer."
Indeed, it was Porter's skill as an a cappella singer that first got him noticed. "I was working in Florida [for Disney and Universal Studios] with my a cappella group, Mosaic, he recalls. "We'd won Star Search and opened for 'N' Sync, plus we were also touring. It was probably one of my most favorite things I've ever done in my life! But then another a cappella group, Toxic Audio, needed a beat boxer understudy who could also sing in both the baritone and high tenor range. So I got hired and came to New York."
What happened next to Porter sounds like it could come from a movie script. "After one show, [Altar Boyz choreographer] Chris Gattelli came backstage and asked for my name because the understudy page had slipped out of his playbill," he notes. "Then three months later, I'm back in Orlando and I get a phone call. It seems that Chris has been looking for me and they'd found me through the friend of a friend. He asked if could I come back to New York to audition for Altar Boyz."
About a year later, he booked Friday Night Lights. "When I read the pilot for Friday Night Lights, I knew that Jason was no generic character and I went out for it with everything I had. Luckily, [director] Peter Berg saw something in me," he says. As it happens, he was also offered to understudy the title role in the Broadway musical Tarzan, but the producers wouldn't give him an out clause if Friday Night Lights got picked up. So he turned down a chance to be on Broadway. I remember someone from Disney said to me, 'if you do television, you'll just be the fourth handsome guy from the left on a WB show."
Where Porter will end up next remains to be seen. "I don't think Cheyenne Jackson [who originated the part of Matthew in Altar Boyz at NYMF] knows this, but I went up for his part on 30 Rock. I have a feeling our paths haven't finished crossing," he says. "I'd love to be on Broadway, and I went out really hard for American Idiot, but I wasn't cast. But my girlfriend and I just moved to L.A. and I can't come back to New York for a long stint unless it's something really special. Still, I'm certainly not through with musical theater."