A fascinating new Brazilian series from Amazon Studios is forging new ground in trans representation in Hollywood. Not only does Manhãs de Setembro (September Mornings) star two prominent Brazilian trans artists of color — Grammy-nominated singer and activist Liniker and filmmaker, singer, and activist Linn da Quebrada — it also centers a trans woman’s story without implementing the usual tropes.
Known for her powerful and technically skilled singing voice, Liniker (pictured above) is a poet and songwriter who plays the lead role in the series. Her poetry is especially popular with LGBTQ+ youth who can relate to its themes of love, heartbreak, rejection, and not fitting in. In her music, her Blackness is a prominent theme, and she often combines different allusions from Black music. Liniker is also a strong advocate for social justice and LGBTQ+ equality.
In Manhãs de Setembro, Liniker plays Cassandra, a trans woman living in downtown São Paulo and working as a motorbike courier. After leaving her hometown and going through years of hardship and struggle, Cassandra is finally in a place of freedom and independence in her life. She finally has her own place, a boyfriend she adores, and is even living her dream of performing covers of her musical idol, Vanusa (a real-life Brazilian singing legend). However, it seems her birth name wasn’t the only thing she left behind in her hometown.
When Cassandra’s former friend and lover, Leide, suddenly reappears in her life, she brings with her a 10-year-boy, Gersinho, who she claims is Cassandra’s son. With Gersinho’s desperate want of a “father” figure and Leide’s need for help in raising him, the pressure begins to break Cassandra down. All she really wants is to retain and enjoy the freedom she has gone through hell to achieve — but as time goes on, she starts to realize you don’t necessarily need to be alone to be free. The beauty of the series is that the story focuses more on Cassandra’s humanity rather than her transness, and is set in a very real and nuanced world.
Manhãs de Setembro premiered June 25 on Amazon Prime. It was originally filmed in Portuguese but is available with subtitles in English, Spanish, German, French, Italian, Espanol, Japanese, and Polish. Watch an exclusive clip here: