BET+

Set during the early 1920s, the new BET+ civil rights drama The Porter tells the story of two train porters and their families and friends, whose worlds collide amidst their fight for liberation. And while the show title alone depicts the long-sought-after freedom — in America, it was largely Black men who held the job, serving white railway passengers — the stars of the series say it isn’t a trauma showcase, it’s a celebration of Black history.

“I think when people hear [it’s] a civil rights-type of show, I think that they think it’s going to punch them in the gut for two hours,” Loren Lott, who plays showgirl Lucy Conrad, told ABC Audio.

Lott says by way of the many different character journeys and the rich history woven into the storylines, the inspired-by-real-events show is “actually a delicious, fun ride.”

Lott’s co-star, Mouna Traoré who plays community nurse Marlene Massey, says she appreciates the show’s foundation as historically factual. Considering its setting in Chicago, Detroit and Montreal, Traoré says The Porter provides an opportunity for people to learn “the experiences of Black people on both sides of the border.”

Speaking of the Black experience, Oscar and Emmy-nominated actress Alfre Woodard, who plays brothel worker Fay Robinson, said that while she always sees the beauty in Black stories, even the traumatic ones, the show elements of The Porter — “the striving, music, dance, sex, drama, fightin’, the purposeful organized and the disorganized crime” — will make viewers feel “alive.”

“That’s the power of storytelling,” Woodard says, adding that when Black people are the authors, “we get defined by our own narrative rather than the narrative that other people have put on screen about us.” 

Season one’s eight episodes of The Porter are available now on BET+.

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