Black Women of Brazil

The site dedicated to Brazilian women of African descent

Rising star! From poor Rio origins, Lellêzinha’s ‘passinho’ steps have led her to an int’l hit, a show in New York, a role in a novela & now a TV commercial!


capa

Note from BW of Brazil: Hey, I know that face!! I must admit that I don’t watch much television. A lot of times I have to be told about developments in Brazilian television through friends or word of mouth. But often times I end up seeing things simply because I’m in the vicinity of other persons who have the television on at one time or another. As such, over the past few weeks I’d noticed a commercial for a hair product that caught my eye for two reasons. One, out of the three women in the clip, two were black, a rarity in Brazilian advertising. And two, I already knew actress Lucy Ramos but the other black girl made me think, “where do I know that face from?” After seeing the clip a number of times I decided to find out who that familiar face belonged to. Oh yeah, now I remember!! It’s the girl from the Dream Team do Passinho song and dance group from Rio! 

“Vida”, by Ricky Martin featuring Dream Team do Passinho

Lellêzinha has actually been featured here at BW of Brazil twice. First, in a June 2013 report on the ‘passinho’ dance craze that took over Rio de Janeiro, and second, in a piece on the charme dances in Madureira region of Rio in July of last year. Well lil’ Lellê’s star is shining brighter and brighter these days. Coming from a situation in which her family couldn’t afford many things, to mastering the ‘passinho’ steps, blowing up on You Tube, participation in an international hit by pop star Ricky Martin and an invitation to perform in New York to a role in a soap opera and now a TV commercial, Lellêzinha has come a long way! As we saw in another Rio-based group that went to international success, all these young women need is opportunity! 

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Lellêzinha with the Dream Team do Passinho

Meet Lellêzinha, the muse of the Dream Team of Passinho

At 16, the teen was discovered in a carioca (Rio de Janeiro) community in the battle of the passinho (little step) and today is part of the cast of the novela (soap opera) Malhação: ‘They called me crazy’

By Laís Gomes

Lellezinha do Passinho, em 2012, quando ainda tinha cabelo alisado

Lellêzinha, of the Dream Team of Passinho, in performance

For some time now the media has disseminated a culture that was born in the alleys of the slums of Rio de Janeiro. The passinho (little step), one of the modes of funk carioca (Rio de Janeiro funk), is becoming more popular on television becoming a hit on the internet. In this environment, where most of the dancers are men, Alessandra Aires Landin, 16, gained national notoriety. With the stage name of Lellêzinha, the girl was chosen to join the ‘Dream Team do Passinho’, a group with the best passinho dancers that signed with the Sony Music label, she grew up and appeared in several television shows.

1

Performing with the Dream Team for Brazilian Foundation Gala in New York last September

The only girl in a team of seven dancers, Lellê not only dances as also takes the microphone of the group. The highlight was so much that she got a prominent character in the Globo TV series Malhação. In an interview with the EGO website, the teenager spoke of her trajectory surrounded by obstacles, the first of them, the lack of money.

Malhação

Seated far left, Lellêzinha with the cast of ‘Malhação’.

“I always had a dream, but I never imagined myself where I am. My dream was to be successful, sing, dance and act. People called me crazy. I danced even with no music. They asked my mom to take me to dance classes, but she could never afford it. I’ve never taken dance, singing or theater classes. I started dancing hip hop when I was 6, and at 11, I started to dance funk. My stepbrother went to a ball where there were only dancers, the boys would go there to duel, I was very young and couldn’t go. So he went, learned everything and passed it on to me at home, that’s how I learned the passinho.”

6

In a still from the video of the Ricky Martin song ‘Vida’

Born and raised in Praça Seca, a district of the west zone of Rio de Janeiro, Lellêzinha says that she was discovered through the Batalha do Passinho (Battle of the Passinho), an event that happens in the communities of Rio de Janeiro in order to discover new talents of dance. “I participated in the battle in Cantagalo and then in Morro da Formiga. Then Coca Cola called us to do the commercial and after that people started calling us to do shows, but we didn’t have a group. Then they selected the dancers and was the only girl to go to the group.” The commercial to which Lellêzinha refers has over ten million views on Youtube and was broadcasted throughout Brazil.

Role in Malhação

Lellezinha with straight hair at left and in Malhação

In ‘Malhação’

Because of the success that took the Dream Team of Passinho to programs such as Globo TV’s talk show Encontro com Fátima, variety show Esquenta and news journal Fantástico, Lellêzinha achieved another of her dreams: acting. The teenager auditioned for the teen novela (soap opera) and is now part of the cast. “A director of the novel called me to do an audition. At the time that I got there, they looked and asked if I was good to record I said I’d try. They gave me a new text to memorize, the director liked it and went to the second. We had physical classes and then did another audition. I thought not, but even to cry, I cried. Then I waited 15 days, I was recording for Vem Aí (Globo TV program) and they called me to break the news that I had passed. I’ve never done theater, it was my first audition, it’s a job that I always dreamed of doing,” she says.

After she began to appear on television, Lellêzinha’s life changed as did her routine. “In the morning I have class, I’m a sophomore in high school. In the afternoon I record or do some workshop in Projac (1)”. She makes the bus ride, which scares neighbors and the people who already recognize the ‘musa do passinho’ nas ruas (muse of the passinho in the streets). “People think I can’t catch the bus, I can’t catch a BRT (bus transportation system in the city of Rio de Janeiro) that people think is strange. They ask if I did the Coca Cola clip and ask to take a picture,” she says, assuming that she’s shy, “but no one believes  it when I speak.”

With success, the teenager has already managed to achieve some of her financial desires, but plays with the status that fame gives. “My neighbors and didn’t expect when I started appearing on television, they were surprised. They thought I was rich, they asked me for money,” she said laughing, before listing what she still wants to do to help the family. “I want to buy a house for my mother, a house for me and buy a car. Today I help my mother pay the bills, help do the home shopping, buy my stuff. There were sneakers that I wanted to buy, and today I can but I’m not rich.”

Hair, the registered trademark

In addition to dance, Lellêzinha has another trademark: her hair. The actress says that until 14 she was an adept of the chapinha (hair flattening iron) and had hair down to her shoulders, but decided to cut at her neck and leave her hair natural. “After it grew I did some highlights and eventually became a mark. The girls ask me for tips on social networks. I try to moisturize every 15 days, I don’t do very much.”

escova convencional no cabelo

Lellêzinha before assuming her natural curls

“I had hair down to my waist. I did an escova marroquina (2), straightened it every day and painted it blue-black. It would grow curly but the tips were straight. I used a lot of chemicals to maintain it,” remembers the singer/actress/dancer,that confesses that she occasionally does a conventional escova when she wants to change her look.

It was almost two years ago that Lellê decided to show her true beauty and stopped straightening.

“I cut it but I thought it was horrible and said: ‘What will they think?’. After seeing that I was more beautiful I valorized my color (3). People see my hair as an inspiration. I like enormous hair, helmet style. To take care of it, I moisturize, use styling cream untangle it with my fingers, so that it falls out and breaks less.”

prefere usar black power

Connected to fashion, she’s also accompanied by a stylist, Antonio Schubach, who set up the daring looks that Lellê wore in the photo shoot for EGO (4). Single, she says that the six boys Dream Team are jealous, and although she isn’t looking for a boyfriend she warns. “I leave it clear that I am not rejecting boyfriends, I’m just not looking, I’m not having time, but of course I want to date.” Focused on her career, she has big dreams. “I want to meet Beyoncé, I’m a fan, and one day record a video with her.”

Visual Oficial da Campanha

In Fructis ad with actress Lucy Ramos (left) and model Marina Nery

Lellêzinha of Rio’s Dream Team of Passinho group featured in Garnier commercial; ad also features actress Lucy Ramos

Video is part of the Fructis Cachos Poderosos (Fructis Powerful Curls) campaign and will have a new version with participation of consumers

Courtesy of Conversas de Salão

Lellêzinha in “#SouPoderosa”; also featuring Lucy Ramos

To kick off the Fructis Cachos Poderosos (Fructis Powerful Curls) launch campaign – starring curly-haired Brazilian women singer/dancer Lellêzinha, actress Lucy Ramos and model Marina Nery – the brand is presenting the music video for #SouPoderosa (“I’m Powerful”) that celebrates the power and beauty of mulheres cacheadas (curly-haired women). Sung by passinho dancer Lellêzinha, the new song has already debuted in the northeastern radio programming and is available for download at the campaign’s hot site campaign, at www.cachospoderosos.com.br.

Cachos-Poderosos-2

Fructis Cachos Poderosos – Lellêzinha (right) with Lucy Ramos and Marina Nery

The clip starring Lellêzinha and Lucy Ramos, went to the air on Friday, August 7th.

Consumers participating in the Battle of the Curl

The launch of Fructis Cachos Poderosos is moving in social networks. The video posted on the Internet in which spokespersons of the campaign tell the story of their relationship with their hair has already garnered over 2 million views and led to the brand creating new actions and calling on consumers to take part in a great movement of the appreciation of curls (5). In July, Lellêzinha and Lucy launched #batalhadocachinho (battle of the little curls) on social networks, challenging the consumer to post videos with the movement of their curls and show that, even in this way, they are still beautiful and defined. With the great adhesion to the Batalha dos Cachinhos on the Internet, the brand decided to create a version of the video with the participation of real consumers shaking their curls, to be released in partnership with Vevo.

Fructis_Publicis2

“This campaign seeks to bring the Fructis brand even closer to the real Brazilian woman. We were understanding the consumidora cacheada (curly-haired consumer) and their identity, and we saw a very strong movement of reconnection with curls, back to the natural style of hair. So, we brought to the campaign much more than a technical product promise: what we did was to translate the pride and the power this consumer feels in assuming her curls through our wonderful spokespersons, each with their own style and history of their hair. The Fructis Cachos Poderosos campaign speaks of being who you are, self esteem, power, and this is very true for the Brazilian woman,” says Joana Fleury, director of the Garnier Brand.

Source: ExtraConversas de Salão, Ego

Note

  1. Projac (short for Projeto Jacarepaguá or Jacarepagua Project), also known as the Globo Center of Production Globe (CGP) or Entretenimento Globo, as it is called in the end credits) it is the center of production of Rede Globo, located between the districts of Jacarepaguá (west and north sides of Curicica Highway) and Curicica (eastern and southern sides of Curicica Highway), in the west zone of the city of Rio de Janeiro. Opening in 1995, it is the second largest television center in Latin America. Source
  2. Escova marroquina is a type of escova progressiva (Keratin Hair Treatment) that arrived in Brazil in 2012. The difference lies in its composition whose main ingredients are clay and cocoa oil, which leave a chocolate or gingerbread scent.
  3. As we see from comments and her eventual transition, Lellêzinha, like so many other black girls and women, grew up believing that to have an acceptable appearance, her hair needed to be straightened. In viewing her previous photos, this writer thinks she looks much better wearing her natural hair!
  4. Although it’s great to see Lellêzinha’s ascension in the entertainment world, I must voice a little concern with the some of the clothes she wears. In the article in which her clothes were described as “daring”, I found myself wondering why a 16-year old was wearing a top in which her breasts were a bit too exposed. As the clothes were chosen by a stylist, I can only hope that the artist’s image doesn’t go down the rode of over-sexualization as we’ve seen in so many Brazilian funk artists and countless American pop examples.
  5. Although it’s great to see Brazilian advertising, even if in a shallow way, embracing hair that isn’t absolutely straight, this is still a down side to this promotion of the beautiful curls. As we discussed in the controversy surrounding the multi-millionaire owner of the Beleza Natural Institute hair salon, this ad is also guilty of promoting only a certain type of curl in their promotional efforts. Note that you don’t see a woman whose curl pattern is of the tighter curled variety, more kinky than curly. Lellêzinha’s loose curl is kinkier in texture than Lucy’s, which is of an even looser curl texture. Thus, what we are seeing once again is the acceptance of textures that maintain a distance from women with kinkier hair and creating the hair version of ‘colorism‘ in which the closer one appears to their African roots, the less acceptable they are.

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