Actress reveals her family history and reveals how she earned her place on the novela
by Laís Rissato
It was a debut and so much more. During the first chapters of the Globo TV novela Viver a Vida, her character, the rebellious Sandrinha, gained prominence in a plot filled with violent scenes, including a shooting in a favela (shantytown), an escape, a quarrel and the threat of a miscarriage. To boot, her resemblance to Caribbean singer Rihanna also drew attention immediately. Taking account for all of these highlights is the actress Aparecida Petrowky, a TV rookie on her own life worthy of its own prime-time novela.
The story begins some 40 years ago, when her grandmother, Geralda de Souza, moved from (the southeastern state of) Minas Gerais to Rio de Janeiro, to work as a maid in the house of a family in the neighborhood of Santa Cruz, in the western zone of the city. She took along with her, still small, Aparecida’s mother, Glória Geralda de Souza. A few months after arriving in Rio, however, Geralda died. Glória ended up being raised with the other two children of a middle-class family for whom her mother worked. At the age of 15, Glória became pregnant with Aparecida. She had the baby, and shortly after, again pregnant, she decided to leave her daughter with the family she worked for in order to live with her boyfriend (and father of Aparecida), the Russian car designer Waldier Petrowky, that worked at a Volkswagen plant in the Rio suburb of Vila da Penha.
“She wanted to have a life with my father and didn’t have the financial or psychological conditions to stay with me. I often say that she was Sandrinha,” says Aparecida, who, in the novela of Manoel Carlos, plays the girl who does everything to continue alongside the father of her newborn son. Aparecida is in tears as he remembers her father, who died of a heart attack when she was a teenager. “I do not like to save dates (so) I can’t remember when. I prefer to forget the bad things. We loved each other, but at that time when I was a kid, he wasn’t in my life much,” she says.
The novelistic plot of the actress’s life doesn’t stop there. When Aparecida’s biological mother left the house, the girl was being taken care of by the teacher Vera Lúcia de Carvalho, one of Glória’s stepsisters. “Vera didn’t let my mother take me. In fact, they reached a consensus and thought it was best that I stay”, says Aparecida, who was raised by Vera at only 5 years old did she know her real mother. “Vera dealt well with children and told me about my origins very naturally. After a while, the Glória returned to work as a nanny in the house. The two were friends. I had two mothers and liked it”, she says.
Aparecida is very emotional when remembering the death of her adoptive mother due to breast cancer in 1999. Vera left two small children, Bianca and Peter, who were eventually craised by Glória, who worked during the week at the family home. “When Vera died, I was very angry with life. I didn’t talk to anyone, this lasted for some time. Everything I am today, my education, I owe to Vera. I’ve always been very independent, I matured quickly,” she says, before making a disclosure. “My foster brothers call my biological mother mom. My life really seems something of a novela (soap opera)!”
Glória, who also had five other natural children, assures that she didn’t regret of what he did leaving Aparecida behind to live with the love of her life. “Cida was very well taken care of. They gave her everything she needed. We get along, she is wonderful, hardworking. I love my daughter too. It’s exciting to see her in the novela, sometimes crying,” says Glória. When she turned 18, Aparecida taught as an elementary school teacher and went to college to study physical therapy. Upon getting her first internship stage in a hotel in the neighborhood of Leblon, she decided to live alone in a studio apartment in the same neighborhood. “I wouldn’t depend on anyone, so, yes, I experienced financial problems. What I earned was only enough to pay the bills,” she says. Because of her shyness, she had difficulty in a course in which she had to give seminars. “The university psychologist recommended that I take a college theater course. I really enjoyed it because I could be myself. I started smiling again, I had been very sad since the death of Vera.”
Once she completed the course of physical therapy, at age 21, Aparecida spent a year and a half in London, working in a shiatsu clinic. “I had a place to stay and to work. It was a good experience. When my visa expired, I decided not to renew it and went back to Brazil. This was when I wrote my first piece, called Zeluda – Uma Zebra Cabeluda (Zeluda – A Hairy Zebra), she says. She also worked as an actress in amateur plays, but her dream was to work in a novela by Manoel Carlos, a man who is famous for his many successful Brazilian novelas.
When he learned of the audition to play the role of Sandrinha, the sister of actress Taís Araújo in Viver a Vida, Aparecida didn’t hesitate. He grabbed her resume and walked for four days in the streets of Leblon, trying to find the author, who also lived there. As she didn’t manage to find him, she gave her materials to a colleague, who took them to Projac, the famous Globo TV network studio. Luckily, the papers arrived, in fact, in the hands of Manoel Carlos, and days later, she was called for an audition. She had eight in total, and won the role. “To interpret it, I had to speak with a deeper voice, and work hard on this dry and anguished side of Sandra”, Aparecida affirms.
Accolades and Rhianna
Manoel Carlos praised the rookie actress. “When we were doing the auditioned, I received a small photo of Aparecida, who I had never heard of. The picture was bad, the resume was brief and written without any zeal. But that little picture impressed me and I asked the cast producer to locate the girl. I insisted on it. Something told me it would be her and that she was a great actress”, says the author.
Since her appearance in the spotlight, the actress has often been compared to the Caribbean singer Rhianna, of whom Aparecida is happy to be compared to. “I’m happy that people confuse me with beautiful and famous people”, she laughs. When looking at her career, Aparecida says she considers herself a winner. “I’ve been through good and bad situations. I am where I am by determination and will. Many times, I could have followed other paths, but I maintained my dignity and the education that Vera gave me. I want to marry and have children, so I can tell them my story, and Glória’s story and Vera’s story.”
Since this article was published, Aparecida did in fact get married in very well-publicized wedding to the singer/musician Felipe Dylon and was recently invited to be an internet talk show host of a program that will called Batendo a Claquete com Aparecida Petrowky (Beating the Slate with Aparecida Petrowky). A few weeks ago, she recorded in a west zone studio in Rio, the first takes of the new attraction in which she plans to chat with many famous people. The director of the new project is Igor Rodriguez.
Actress Aparecida Petrowky been’s rockin’ her ‘fro since April! “Women have to appreciate the black race and stop straightening their hair”.
Aparecida Petrowky: Compared to Rhianna, Halle, Beyonce and others, see her gallery of hairstyles from long and straight, to curly, short and afro – Who does she remind you of?