Note from BW of Brazil: It’s been awhile since well-known actress Camila Pitanga has been featured on the pages of BW of Brazil, and it’s not because I didn’t want to feature her, but because she in fact took a hiatus from public life. In 2016, during the recording of the Globo TV novela Velho Chico, Pitanga and the protagonist of the soap opera, Domingos Montagner, decided to dive into the São Francisco River, in the state of Sergipe where the novela was being filmed. A strong current soon emerged, and while Pitanga was able to direct herself to a calmer area, her colleague was not as fortunate and ended up drowning. Pitanga revealed that she had twice grabbed the actor’s hand before he went under and she began to call out for help. The death that has a top news story in Brazil for several days, affected Pitanga deeply.
Only recently has the actress returned since having explained the ordeal shortly after it happened in September of 2016. Since her return to her professional life, Pitanga has appeared on the late night variety show Altas Horas, where she spoke of the challenges her mother faced as a black actress over 30 years ago, taken a role in a theater piece, Por que não vivemos?, her first in five years, as well as a new television series, Aruanas. Camila was also featured on three different covers for a recent edition of the Marie Claire’s Brazilian edition of the magazine and made an appearance on a top rated Globo TV talk show in which she had some choice words about Brazil’s current President, Jair Bolsonaro.
Camila Pitanga returns to TV and is featured on magazine cover with her mother, actress Vera Manhães
By Laísa Gabriela de Sousa
Away from from the spotlight for three years, the actress and host, Camila Pitanga, debuts in the theater and is one of the protagonists of the series Aruanas on Globoplay. In August she will assume the presentation of the GNT network’s Superbonita program, which returns to its original format. This month, alongside her mother, actress and former model Vera Manhães, is featured on the cover of the Brazilian edition of Maire Claire magazine.
In her Instagram, Camila commented on the happiness of accomplishing this work. “When @lauraancona invited me to be on the cover of the July issue of @marieclairebr, I didn’t imagine it would be three covers, nor could I imagine that my mother, Vera Manhães, would be on it with me. Do I need to say more? Such love! And what a beautiful result.”
The return of the actress comes after a career break due to the death of her friend and also actor, Domingos Montagner, in 2016, while the two swam in the Rio São Francisco (River). Very close to her family and friends, Camila underwent a process of “restoration and healing” to get well after the tragedy.
The actress also reflected on the racism she suffered at the beginning of her career. In a video, the actress once again said that she identifies herself as a black woman and discussed the issue of colorism in Brazil.
“People asked me why I said I was black, as if [not recognizing myself as black] was a way out, a solution? I can’t even put on a name on this, because it’s actually racism.
Another point raised by Camila in the interview was the current Brazilian policy, citing her work at the UN: “This current government is destruction,” she said.
Studying black feminism helped understanding of actress mother’s career
Pitanga also recently participated in the Globo late night variety show, Altas Horas, and commented on the life story of her mother, Vera Manhães, who was an actress until the 80s. She revealed that Vera is currently doing music therapy and singing.
Camila talked about Vera’s trajectory and the difficulties she faced: “My mother went through very difficult things. Mom was also an actress and, in her time, a black woman was invisible, on the sidelines.
“When I went to study black feminism, I understood my mother’s story much more.
Vera has undergone treatment for many years, and Camila says she now understands what she’s been through better: “I understood much more about this issue of her doing psychiatric treatment. It seemed to be her problem. And it was very important to understand that it wasn’t her problem. It was also a problem of the society that didn’t welcome her, that didn’t give her a chance to work, didn’t respect her, that wanted her in a place of sexual object, that wanted her in a place that she couldn’t identify herself and that she couldn’t bear to be.”
“It is with great pride that I speak of Vera Manhães, as much as I like to speak of Antonio Pitanga. They are two very important references in my life.”
Criticism of Bolsonaro
Live on the Globo TV program Encontro com Fátima Bernardes, Pitanga criticized the president Jair Bolsonaro.
Pitanga was one of the guests of the program Encontro, hosted by Fátima Bernardes on the Globo network, this Thursday, 25, and ended up making a personal declaration on national television network to criticize a comment by President Jair Bolsonaro who said last week that there is no hunger in Brazil.
The moment in which Camila Pitanga voiced her opinion occurred after the Fátima Bernardes program addressed the subject of students who, during summer vacations go without the lunches served in schools, and end up going hungry.
In this regard, there are some groups that organize themselves to feed these people, and Encontro presented an example onstage of the Globo TV program.
Near the close of the meeting, when Fátima Bernardes was about to close the program, Camila Pitanga said:
“So Fátima, I’m sorry there’s no way I can’t speak, because I can’t forget that our president said that there is no hunger in Brazil. It hurts to think that our greatest representative is not attentive to this Brazilian reality,” said Camila Pitanga, criticizing the speech of Bolsonaro who, after the repercussion, was forced to retract, and admitted to having made a mistake in his comment.
Speaking on the topic, Bernardes herself supported Pitanga’s assessment stating that we must “be attentive because these people are really in need, and close to us there is certainly someone who is in need”.
On social networks, the viewers of the Globo program echoed Camila Pitanga’s comments.
“Fátima Bernardes and Camila Pitanga gave a direct message to Jair Bolsonaro. Brazil does have a lot of people in a chronic situation of hunger,” said one user. “Camila Pitanga held on until she couldn’t stand it, and remembered another piece of nonsense that Bozoasno (see note one) said, that there is no hunger in Brazil,” wrote another.
In another controversy, earlier this Bolsonaro made headlines when he stated that “work doesn’t harm the children”. Clarifying his position, the President continued:
“Look, working at 9, 10 years of age on the farm, I was not harmed at all. When some 9 or 10 year old kid goes to work somewhere, it’s full of people there (saying) ‘slave labor, I don’t know what, child labor’. Now, when he’s smoking a crack parallelpiped, nobody says anything. So work doesn’t get in the way of anyone’s life.”
Understanding how his words could interpreted, he assured that wasn’t thinking of doing anything radical to child labor laws in Brazil:
“Rest assured that I will not present any bill here to decriminalize child labor, because I would be massacred. But I wanted to say that I, an older brother, a younger sister of mine worked on the farm, hard work.”
Bolsonaro also revealed that he learned to drive a tractor on the farm, also at age 9, and that he was shooting with a rifle at that time.
Although I’m sure the clarification was appreciated, it is still problematic that the President would make such statements in a Brazil that is still struggling with illegal child labor. An official study by the IBGE found that 2.7 million children continued working in the country illegally as of 2015. The Brazil Africa Institute reports the situation being even worse, estimating that 3.5 million children aged 5-14 worked, down from 8 million in 1992.
“What future will these children have? A working child cannot concentrate or use the energy as required by studying. The mere fact that the state doesn’t provide them with quality public education is an aggression in itself—that, coupled with precocious employment, dooms these children,” stated Tânia Dornellas, an adviser on the situation.
Considering the association with poverty, it should also come as no surprise that there is a race and gender element to the practice of child labor, with a 2013 report revealing that 93% of children and adolescents involved in domestic work in Brazil were girls with 67% of working children being black girls. It’s very common to read stories of black adults who reveal having dropped out of school early to start working to contribute to their family household income.
With such a reality, his statements on hunger, his belief that racism is rare in Brazil and considering how Bolsonaro’s policies seem to have the objective of undermining black social ascension, you can understand how I take everything this president says with a grain of salt…but that’s just me.
- Along with simply Bozo, or Bozonaro, which likens the current president to the famous clown, Bozoasno is another nickname given to Bolsonaro by the President’s critics.