We weren’t lying when we said that the women rule “Money Heist.” In season four, we were introduced to a new character on the thieves’ side: Julia aka Manila (Belén Cuesta).
If you were paying attention during season three, Manila was already in the show as one of the hostages in the Bank of Spain. All this time we thought she would just be an extra, but as Cuesta told Preen.ph during a video call interview (along with her co-stars Alba Flores, Jaime Lorente and Álvaro Morte), she might just be the Professor’s “secret weapon.”
Who is Manila?
In “Money Heist” season four, Manila was first introduced as the godchild of Moscow (Paco Tous), who was killed in season two, and the childhood friend of Denver (Jaime Lorente).
Manila was initially called “Juanito” in a flashback conversation between the Professor (Álvaro Morte), Moscow and Denver when the latter two asked if they could include him in the heist. When the Professor agreed and they set a meet-up with Moscow godchild, they found out that Juanito transitioned into a woman and is now named Julia.
In one episode, we see a heartfelt conversation between Manila and Denver about transitioning and when the former knew she was a woman. It was a simple yet enlightening moment to educate viewers about Manila’s trans experience.
Manila the thief
So far, Manila has been keeping a low profile and sticking with the hostage group. All we know is that she’s good with a gun and can keep a good poker face. We don’t know yet how she’ll come into play in future episodes, but Cuesta tells us that it’s something viewers should look forward to.
“[Manila] is a new ace, a new card that the Professor has,” she says. “I don’t know what to say without spoiling anything, but this is something that the Professor has been saving [for this heist.]”
“She’s a secret a weapon—like a surveillance camera. We’ll have to wait and see if it works out.”
Lorente agrees and says, “That’s a good definition.”
More kickass women in the team
Manila is the fifth woman to be part of the Professor’s heist team, further underlining the strong female presence in the show. “With Belén’s character, we are gaining diversity, which is always good news,” says Flores.
Cuesta is also excited to be part of a show that she loves and working with equally empowered women. “As a viewer, I always said that the female characters are good. Not just because they are kickass, but because I believe they have an emotional scale that is interesting and important,” she says.
“It’s true that there are more and more women [in the thieves and police side]—each one very different and important.”