Rosie Awori (LJI)
Set in the 1920s in Montreal and Chicago, The Porter, an eight-episode series that follows Black railway porters as they work hard and hustle going after dreams while facing racial barriers at every turn, debuted on Canadian and American screens on Feb. 21.
The series is a co-production between CBC and BET+ so it will fittingly travel across the border and air where porters also fought for better working conditions. it’s the biggest Black-led TV series in Canada’s history, focusing on North America’s first Black labour union.
It shows the challenges the Black community faced in Canada and the U.S. in the 1920s while celebrating the lives, stories, and pivotal-yet-often-ignored achievements of Black train porters.
The series was filmed in Winnipeg and set in Montreal, as the world recovers from the losses of World War I and the flu pandemic, it aims to reframe Black Canadian history by featuring the fullness and diversity of the Black diaspora—including those who came from the Caribbean and made a big impact on this sector of the economy.
The show is created and developed by Arnold Pinnock, Bruce Ramsay, Aubrey Nealon and showrunners Annmarie Morais and Marsha Greene. The project boasts a largely Black Canadian creative team, including writers Marsha Greene and Annmarie Morais, and directors Charles Officer and R.T. Thorne.
British actor Aml Ameen of “Sense8” plays Junior, a train porter who channels his hunger for something more by bootlegging booze on the side, while Rowe plays Zeke, who fights for change by attempting to unionize his fellow Black porters. Their diverging choices test their friendship and their families.
Arnold Pinnock is a self-described history buff who came across the fascinating story of the sleeping car porters and the first Black Labour Union. It resonated with him profoundly.
“I just wanted to give a love letter to the people that don’t have a voice anymore,” he is quoted as saying. “They’re no longer with us. We talk about history in the sense real historical events. Well, with what level history we do know about the time, they don’t talk about their loves, their relationships, their happiness. They don’t talk about all those things. And the fact that we brought those things to life, it humanizes it.”
Check out The Porter on CBC Gem and BET+.