CBC and BET+ announced on Thursday that they had partnered to greenlight the original series The Porter (working title, 8×60) for 2021/22. Originated and created by Arnold Pinnock (Altered Carbon, Travelers) and Bruce Ramsay (19-2, Cardinal), with Annmarie Morais (Killjoys, Ransom, American Soul), Marsha Greene (Private Eyes, Ten Days In The Valley, Mary Kills People) and Aubrey Nealon (Snowpiercer, Cardinal), The Porter is set in the roar of the 1920s and follows the journeys of four ambitious souls who hustle, dream, cross borders and confront barriers in the fight for liberation – on and off the railways that crossed North America.
Morais and Greene will serves as writers and showrunners on the eight-part series, with Charles Officer (21 Thunder, Ransom, Coroner) and R.T. Thorne (Blindspot, Utopia Falls) set to executive produce and direct. Pinnock and Ramsay are co-executive producers.
The first season, set primarily in Montreal, Chicago and Detroit as the world rebuilds after the First World War, depicts another battle as it ripples through the Black community in Little Burgundy, Montreal – known, at the time, as the “Harlem of the North.” For the American and Canadian men working as railway porters, it’s a fight for equity and dignity. For the women in their lives, facing sexism and colorism, it’s a movement to claim their independence and identity. They’re young, gifted and Black, in an era that boasts anything is possible, and if change isn’t coming for them, they will come for it. By any means necessary.
Inspired by real events, The Porter is a gripping story of empowerment and idealism that highlights the moment when railway workers from both Canada and the United States joined together to give birth to the world’s first Black union.
“Bruce and I have always wanted to showcase the Railway Porters and their families – and the impact they had in Black communities in cities across North America,” said Pinnock.
“The Porter is more than a healthy dose of history. It’s a bold, sexy, unapologetic look at Black ambition,” said Morais.
“It’s a critical time to bring Black stories to our screens, especially those that detail the trials and triumphs of the real women and men who fought for equality before us. We look forward to working with CBC and this strong creative team to bring this story to life,” said Devin Griffin, Executive Vice President and General Manager, BET+.
“Led by an extraordinary creative team, The Porter is a vital story highlighting people and events in our history that are long overdue to be told. We are excited to partner with BET+ to bring this series to audiences on both sides of the border,” said Sally Catto, General Manager, Entertainment, Factual and Sports, CBC.
A CBC and BET+ original series, The Porter is originated and created by Arnold Pinnock and Bruce Ramsay, with Annmarie Morais, Marsha Greene and Aubrey Nealon, and produced by Winnipeg-based Inferno Pictures Inc. and Sphere Media’s Sienna Films. Morais and Greene are showrunners and executive producers. Charles Officer and R.T. Thorne will direct the series, and are executive producers. Pinnock and Ramsay are co-executive producers. The series is written by Morais, Greene, Andrew Burrows-Trotman, Priscilla White, Pinnock and Ramsay, with R.T. Thorne participating in the writers’ room. The series is funded with the support of the Canada Media Fund and Manitoba Film & Music, and is distributed internationally by Abacus Media Rights (AMR) and Sphere Distribution. AMR and Sienna Films brokered the partnership with BET+.