THE INSPIRATION TALK
WHERE DID YOU GROW UP? AND WHAT WERE YOU DREAMING OF ?
I was born in Recife but when I was 10 years old we moved to Argentina, so I actually grew up in Buenos Aires. I started theatre in school and always had a very strong connection with music: I started dancing ballet when I was 3, playing the piano when I was 5 and by the time I got to Buenos Aires I was already singing. It was very organic and I think music led me to where I am today.
WHY DID YOU MOVE TO BUENOS AIRES?
My grand-father had a restaurant there that he opened in 1993. In 2000, during the big crisis in Argentina, he asked my parents to go and take care of it or else it was going to close. We were supposed to be there for 6 months and we ended up staying a decade! (laughs).
WHAT DID YOU DO NEXT?
When I graduated from high school, I didn’t have the guts to pursue musical theatre school yet. Maybe because my family comes from the restaurant business, which isn’t that rigid but still, I told myself that I needed to study something “safer”. When I told my mom, she was like: “no, you need to go and follow your dreams!”. I thought to myself: “what better city to make my dreams come true than New York?”. So I auditioned for AMDA - College and Conservatory of the Performing Arts and got myself a scholarship! It was one and a half years of very intense course, from 8am to 8pm every single day. These were the best years of my life. I miss New York every single day, it was amazing.
ARE YOU TELLING ME THAT YOU WERE ACTUALLY AT COLLEGE LIKE IN THE MOVIE “FAME”?
Haha, yes! It was incredible.
WHY DID YOU COME BACK FROM THIS DREAM THEN?
My visa expired! So I decided to go to Recife where, in the meantime my parents had moved back to, and started working out on my resume with the ultimate goal of going back to the US one day.
RECIFE, AFTER NY, KIND OF A DRASTIC CHANGE…
It was really strange but good at the same time since I still had all these childhood memories there. After being heartbroken from leaving NY, it was good to be back to my real home with my family and childhood friends. It turned out it was also the perfect timing since TV Globo was producing a soap opera that had a whole part in Recife, for which they needed actresses who could sing! They contacted me out of the blue and flew me to Rio for an audition. I got the part and it was so exciting because I went from studying theatre which is a very specific format of acting to diving into television which is fast-paced: I was used to long rehearsals and we didn’t have those there, you need to be on your feet and ready at all times. It was a steep learning curve and super special to me since I got to do my first big job in my home town. Everything started happening once I got back home.
SO YOU WERE THERE FOR A FEW MONTHS AND THEN YOU MOVED TO RIO?
Actually while I was recording I had to move to Rio since a whole part of the story was happening there. When the novela was over, I decided to stay and try out for more opportunities which got me the part in “Malhação”, the big teen TV show that has been airing for over 20 years in Brazil! The season I was part of was actually the 20th anniversary and needless to say, a very special one. I had sent my material to the casting team but never heard anything back, I even thought I was a bit old for the series. Anyway, I was in the process of auditioning for another series when all of a sudden the casting agent calls to see me since the actress they had chosen had fallen pregnant. Right time, right place, it was probably the fastest “yes” I received in my career: auditioned at 10am, got the part at 12am. And did I mention it was again a singing part?
HAVE YOU EVER THOUGHT ABOUT PURSUING A CAREER AS A SINGER?
I’ve always had that on my mind but never stopped enough time to do it for real. If I am going to do something, I’m going to do it well. I need to make sure it is the right repertoire and find “my” sound.
THIS ACTUALLY MUST BE THE HARDEST PART…
Yes! But then it is really funny because every single character I did was a singing one, even if they weren’t supposed to be singing at first! When productions find out I sing, they add it to the character! Last year I did a TV show for Fox called “um contra todos”. We had just finished our first day of shooting and were hanging out with one of the other actors who had a guitar; we started playing some music, obviously I started singing and the director decided to write me a scene where I would sing! And it was so special because the song he had decided for me to sing was the actual one I sang that night which is a song that I translated from Spanish from a very good friend of mine. This actually helped me figure out what I really wanted to sing: I am working on 2/3 songs that I am going to record this first semester!
DID WE JUST GET A SCOOP?
WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST JOB?
A film! I graduated from musical theatre on a Friday and on the Monday I had an audition for a movie in NY. It was the weirdest audition since I didn’t have any lines to read, the director just wanted me to come and tell a story, so I told him the story of when Liam Neeson kind of hit on me.
WHAT IS THAT STORY?
Haha. I had gone to see a play on Broadway by myself and decided to go grab a quick bite after, still on my own. I am that kind of person. So I was in this little Italian restaurant next to the theatre, sitting at my table with the program of the play on the table when suddenly I saw Liam Neeson entering. Long story short, as he was walking in, he saw the program, stopped, looked at me and asked if I liked the play! I tried to answer in the coolest possibleway and then as he was walking away I heard myself scream at him “I am a very big fan of yours!” (laughs).
OH MY GOD. HAHAHA.
I just couldn’t help myself. But he gave me a compliment in return like “oh thank you, you’re beautiful” or something like that, I cant remember exactly. And then he really walked away. I thought it was really cool. And even cooler since this story that I told the director actually got me the part in my first acting job!
NOT BAD! WHEN I ASKED YOU WHAT YOUR FIRST JOB WAS, I WAS REALLY MORE EXPECTING AN ANSWER LIKE WAITRESS.
Hahaha. Indeed! But after that job, I started waitressing.
SO I’M GUESSING YOU HAVE ALSO EXPERIENCED THE PROCESS OF REJECTION IN THAT INDUSTRY. HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH THAT?
Of course I did! We go out on so many auditions, and 90% of them are a “no”. It is really hard at the beginning because you think it is because of you, that you work is not good enough, when in fact there are so many factors out of your own control. After that first job, I think I had a whole year of waitressing since I only got rejections. To add to the stress of rejection, at that time I also had some visa problems, up to the point I actually started to tell myself I had to figure out a plan B for my life, like maybe even going to work at my parent’s restaurant. It really takes a little while to understand and accept the game without feeling harmed.
WHAT ARE THE EXTENDS YOU CAN GET TO, TO NAIL A ROLE?
Getting a role is so subjective. There are so many factors that get in the way of the decision that I always think : “the no I already have, let’s try to focus on the yes”. I am a nerd, I study everything, I get references, I try to learn as much as I can about the author, if it’s on TV already I will watch every single episode. By the time I walk into the audition room I want them to think “okay, this is the girl”. I just finished a job in Argentina and the director told me something that I think aligns with all of what happened in my career and the fact that things happen for a reason. He said: “when I start writing a script and I type the character’s name and press enter, it travels to the actor destined to play the part. From this moment, the part is already theirs. It doesn’t belong to me anymore. My job is to find that person.”
A FEW MONTHS AGO, YOU POSTED A TOPLESS PHOTO OF YOU ON INSTAGRAM TO CELEBRATE THE INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY AND YOU ADDED A POEM IN WHICH YOU TALKED ABOUT REVOLUTION. DO YOU THINK YOU HAVE TO SHOCK TO BE HEARD ?
Nowadays, you kind of have to. I had already posted a picture from that photoshoot before and it had already made a “scandal”. My objective wasn’t to shock, it was just perfectly expressing what I had to say that day: I had broken up with my boyfriend and was in the period of re-discovering myself as a woman and re-discovering that I have this freedom that I thought I didn’t. Revolutions have started in me and in everyone, it is a movement that is happening: women are coming together and fighting. Obviously we have been fighting for centuries but we have that revival now and we are standing up for ourselves and our sisters again. More specifically in Brazil, where we do have this retrograde sexist system, I feel you do have to shock a little to be heard.
IN THE DEBUT WEEK OF THE NOVELA “GERAÇÃO BRASIL” IN WHICH YOU PARTICIPATED, VIEWERS CLAIMED TO HAVE SEEN ALLEGED SUB-MESSAGES OF POLITICAL CONNOTATION IN THE LOGO, THE STYLIZED NAME G3R4Ç4O BR4S1L, REPRODUCING NUMBERS OF POLITICAL PARTIES. MANY ACCUSED GLOBO OF MAKING "ELECTORAL MANIPULATION”. WHEN YOU KNOW NOVELAS ARE SUCH A BIG INFLUENCE ON THE POPULAR CULTURE, ARE YOU AWARE OF THE POWER AND RESPONSIBILITIES YOU HAVE, AS AN ACTOR ?
I didn’t really feel that while doing Geração Brasil as my character was smaller whereas in Malhação, it was different, especially since I had such a younger audience. The story of my character was heavy, it talked about a woman being kicked out of her house because she was raped and got pregnant, it talked about drug use, it talked about death. Our focus was more about how do we tell these stories in a responsible way. And there is also my own person: what kind of example do I want to give to these 13/14/15 years old girls that are following me on Instagram? It was definitively a moment where I was very careful with everything that I posted or said. It is my responsibility. To me playing these characters was also very eye-opening: I had to face a lot of twitter rants like (young) people commenting that my character deserved to be kicked out of her home… It was complicated to make them understand that no matter how bad someone is, no one deserves to be raped.
DID YOU RESPOND?
Of course! In a polite way, trying to make my point and people did change their mind!
AS A PUBLIC PERSON YOUR JOB GOES BEYOND PROMOTING YOUR ART, YOU HAVE A DUTY TO CONTINUE THE DEBATE IN REAL LIFE.
Sometimes I am afraid to respond, like how will my words be interpreted? Will they make the difference between me defending a character and me defending a cause? Here for example it was about supporting women against abusive relationships. It is a sensitive subject here and it is polarizing. Look at the discussion that started around Marielle Franco’s death: some people saying that she could have seen it coming… It is absolutely baffling to see that a country reacts that way but I think it is because we are not educated enough. It is the result of years and years of conservative ideology and people tend to mix human rights and punishing someone who did wrong. It is really sensitive and you need to find a way to give your opinion that is going to reach them so that maybe they’ll change their mind, or at least they are going to think about it.
WHAT WAS THE MOST VALUABLE LESSON YOU LEARNED FROM THAT POSITION YOU SOMETIMES HAD TO TAKE?
First: never take it personally. It is very easy to forget not to. When you are a public person, people feel in their right to talk to you in a certain way and most of the time it is attacking. Second: always try to put yourself in their shoes to find the best way to voice your opinion in a way that will be understood.
THE QUESTION OF VULNERABILITY IS ALSO SOMETHING THAT YOU MUST BE FACING IN YOUR WORK, LIKE FOR EXAMPLE WHEN YOU DON’T FEEL OKAY TO DO A SCENE IN A CERTAIN WAY AND ARE AFRAID TO VOICE YOUR OPINION. I DISCUSSED THIS WITH MARIANA XIMENES WHO TOLD ME THAT EXPERIENCE AND BEING SURROUNDED BY STRONG WOMEN HELPED HER GAIN THE CONFIDENCE TO OVERCOME THESE SITUATIONS. WHAT IS YOUR WAY OF COPING?
I think I am very lucky because I started working in a moment where these stories of women being abused in their workplace were coming out. I never had a situation where I didn’t feel okay with what I was asked to do, but if I did have, I would have the strength to speak up. Again, because of the moment we are living in; I don’t know about that had I been working 20 or 30 years ago. I actually just had my first nude scene last year and I was terrified but the director made it super confortable for me and we had a woman co-directing which I felt helped me a lot.
DO YOU FEEL MEN IN LEADERSHIP POSITIONS FROM THE MOVIE INDUSTRY ARE AFRAID NOW?
I don’t know if I was just always lucky to have worked with good men or if they’re good just because they’re afraid but I guess that they must be more aware of what can happen. It is an education in process.
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IS YOUR VULNERABILITY?
I am very insecure with my work. I always think it is awful.
DO YOU WATCH YOURSELF?
I do. I never like it. I don’t know if it is because I went to a school that was very specific for one thing and I have since been doing a whole other technique but I always feel I should have studied more.
HOW DO YOU COPE WITH IT?
I don’t (laughs). It is a battle. I always end up second-guessing myself about my choices of career.
DO YOU HAVE A MENTOR TO HELP YOU WITH THOSE QUESTIONS?
My therapist! (Laughs). But no, I don’t have anyone specific. Whoever is unlucky enough to be by my side at this moment (laughs).
WE TALKED ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF WOMEN SUPPORTING EACH OTHER, BUT CINEMA IS SUCH A COMPETITIVE PLACE. DO YOU GENUINELY FEEL IT IS HAPPENING THERE TOO?
For sure! I just went out for a job which I didn’t get and then I found out a good friend of mine was going for the same part and I urged her to nail it. If it wasn’t going to be mine, I wanted it to be hers. A year ago I would have probably been a bit jealous. I really feel a change and even if it is still competitive, just like any other job, I think we now get that it is serving us best to stick together.
WHAT IS THE ONE THING THAT SURPRISED YOU IN YOUR PATH UNTIL NOW?
Really how lucky I have been. I don’t take anything for granted. I didn’t think it would all happen so fast.
AT SCHOOL, DO THEY PREPARE YOU TO DEAL WITH THE WAIT, THE PERIODS WITHOUT WORK, BECAUSE I FEEL THIS IS A HUGE PART OF THE CAREER…
Definitively! They actually tell us that our job is not really acting, it is auditioning! (Laughs).
DO YOU HAVE ANY INTERNATIONAL AMBITION?
Oh yes! I’m a Leo, I am very ambitious! I don’t have a plan but I have a focus. I mean, I look up to actresses like Marion Cotillard, Natalie Portman, etc, because they do commercial stuff but also more “passion” projects and to me that is the dream. Being able to do both: things that will pay your bills and finance the projects you really believe in and tell the stories you really want to tell.
WHAT ARE THE STORIES YOU REALLY WANT TO TELL?
I don’t know yet but one day I will. But I do also have the ambition of directing, writing, producing… I love every single aspect of the industry. The days I don’t shoot on a movie, I still go to the set to watch and learn. On my last movie, in Buenos Aires, the director started joking that I was his intern.
I THINK IT IS IMPORTANT, IN ANY JOB, TO START FROM THE BOTTOM IN ORDER TO KNOW WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT ONCE YOU ARE IN THE POSITION OF LEADERSHIP.
This is so true. In this industry, actors tend to have a certain status and people are always afraid to bother them. I think this is so ridiculous, they just participate in breeding little monsters! Everyone is just doing their job and we are all going to work together to achieve the best possible result. It wouldn’t hurt actors to be less snob about certain things…
I FEEL THIS “SENSATIONALIST” BEHAVIOR THAT MAYBE THE INDUSTRY ENCOURAGES ACTORS TO HAVE, HELPS SELLING MOVIES…
Unfortunately! But it is not cool anymore…
YES LIKE WHEN YOU COULD READ THAT J.LO HAD SPECIFIC DEMANDS OF HAVING ALL HER TOUR DRESSING ROOMS PAINTED IN WHITE?
DO YOU FEEL YOU CAN OPENLY CELEBRATE YOUR INDIVIDUALITY IN THIS INDUSTRY?
It is a learning curve. Once you get in, you are always afraid of being kicked out. In the beginning I was trying to fit myself into a mold but I soon realized it doesn’t work like that. I mean, you end up loosing your essence which is the ultimate thing that is keeping people interested and work coming in! I am just starting not to be afraid and not apologizing for who I am.
WHAT IS THE MESSAGE YOU WANT TO PASS?
I don’t think I have ever thought about it, but I am a big believer of leading by example, like “do as I say and as I do”. I don’t know what the message is that I want to pass but I guess that it is okay to be “you”. And of course, always be nice to people. This urges respect from the others. And I think the most important is to respect yourself.
WHAT WAS THE LAST THING THAT REALLY MADE YOU LAUGH?
Hmmm… I can’t remember! Does this mean I am not laughing enough? I am living with two friends right now and it is the first time in a while that I am with my girlfriends all the time since before that I was in a long term relationship, and it is just a blast! So funny stories happen!
AS A 27 YEARS OLD PUBLIC PERSON, HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH HAVING TO SHARE INTIMATE AND SAD MOMENTS LIKE WHEN YOU ENDED UP YOUR LAST RELATIONSHIP?
It was hard but we made the mistake of making the relationship public since the start of it. It was done in a healthy way, nothing too gossipy but I wouldn’t do it again, because when it ended we had to make an official statement since people were commenting so much that we should not end it! We had to talk about it over and over when it is the last thing you want to do when you break up with someone. It was hard. And also I think it made us question if this was going to have consequences in what people were going to think. It might have made us afraid and maybe wait a little longer before officially taking the decision to break up. But the lesson has been learned! You don’t have to share everything.
WHAT IS THE SONG THAT WILL ALWAYS MAKE YOU WANT TO DANCE?
I really like 70s soul funk music like the Temptations “I can’t get next to you”. It is impossible not to dance to that song!
ITW & CREATIVE DIRECTION: LISA DEBATTY
PHOTOGRAPHER: GUILHERME NABHAN
BEAUTY ARTIST: PAULA KADIJAN
STYLING: CRIS BARROS
PRODUCTION: OUI SIMONE
(Special thanks to the Lavandaria dos Artistas and Nelba Cardoso)
This portrait is part of a curated series of 4 portraits of artists representing free, feminine and inspiring women that OuiSimone imagined with Cris Barros.