After criticism of being too light to portray scientist in biopic, actress Taís Araújo steps down: “They’re totally right!”

Actress Taís Araújo was to play award-winning scientist Joana D'Arc Félix in a biopic
tais - joana
Actress Taís Araújo was to play award-winning scientist Joana D’Arc Félix in a biopic

Note from BW of Brazil: Sometimes it is possible to show one’s character by simply not doing something rather than doing something. When I posted the original story about this report about two weeks ago, I must admit I thought, not only is Taís too light to play this role, but as much as she’s accomplished in her more than two decades in the public eye, maybe she should let another actress take on this role.

We’ve already had a number of incidents in both Brazilian and American media in which a chosen actor or actress raised eyebrows for not possessing the darker skin and fuller features of the people they were called upon or took the initiative to play, so I don’t really feel the need to discuss it right now. We also know that this can be case will with fictional characters that were basically described as black but then brought to life in bodies that don’t portray such features. 

Besides, I have a piece coming up that has caused much more of a stir on this same issue and it will be intriguing to see how people react given the rising tide of calls for black representation in Brazil’s media. Stay tune for that one, but for now, applause for Taís! She thought the issue and did what she thought was the right thing. 

Taís Araújo (à esq.) ia viver a cientista brasileira Joana D'Arc 2

Because of skin tone, Tais Araújo steps down from playing renowned scientist in a film

by Daniel Caskro

Taís Araújo steps down from playing the Brazilian scientist Joana D’Arc Félix in a film. The actress continues to be involved in the project, but will take on another character or will be behind only the cameras, in the production. She relinquished the role after being criticized for having too light a skin tone for the character. “I was not the right person,” she acknowledges.

“It’s curious, because sometimes you think you’re an educated person, and yet you make mistakes. I reflect on it all the time. When they announced that I was going to do Joana D’Arc, there were several comments criticizing, saying ‘She’s very light’. And when I read that, I saw that they were totally right,” recalls Taís.

“I don’t need to do Joana D’Arc, I’ve already do so much! I can make the project happen with another actress, more appropriate to interpret thecharacter. Because this actress exists, and it’s not me,'” she points out.

The Globa TV star justifies that giving the opportunity to another professional, with pele mais retinta (darker skin), is a way to get to the root of the problem. “Our country has millions of problems, and this darker-skinned actress must be tired of hearing that she can’t do one or another role because it’s not suitable for her.

In that case, the role is absolutely appropriate, so no one will say she can’t do it. “

Taís recognizes that once she received the film project about the life of the scientist, she didn’t come to think about the tone of her skin. “When I saw that, I thought, ‘Wow, you’re a black scientist, with I don’t know how many patents… I’m really hungry, I want to tell the story of this woman. I didn’t even think about whether I was the right actress [to play her in a film],” she admits.

The experience of being criticized for being “very light” opened her eyes.

“I realized that we have to learn every day, to be always evolving. I think this inclusion is still a very recent process, and we are going to make mistakes, and we are going to commit excesses. It’s a path that we never walk, and we don’t know where it will go. But it will certainly be for a different world, more just, because in this one we’ve already experienced too much and have gotten tired,” she says.

In addition to the story of Joan of Arc Félix, Taís also has a project to bring the life of Elza Soares to the movies. And, engaged, she made a point of putting black writers in the two full length films, in addition to making sure that the teams will have professional women.

“It’s not worth making a movie about Elza, an extremely political woman, if you’re not also political in your choices. We can’t only be in the rhetoric, we have come from action,” she values.

History of overcoming

Born in Franca, in the interior of the state of São Paulo, Joana D’Arc Félix has a story of excellence that is worthy of cinema. She had a poor childhood, but managed to become a PhD in Chemistry at the prestigious Harvard University in the United States.

The Brazilian scientist has earned no less than 56 awards in her career, most notably the title of Researcher of the Year at the Kurt Politizer of Technology in 2014, awarded by Abquim (Associação Brasileira da Indústria Química (Brazilian Chemical Industry Association).

Her research concerns the use of porcine skin in transplants in humans.  The issue arose when a worker from her hometown suffered serious injuries by accidentally dropping a gallon of sulfuric acid on her body. The victim was related to one of Joana’s students.

Joana struggled to win her titles. The daughter of a maid, she came from a family with few resources, but she achieved places to study at Unicamp, USP and Unesp, all universities in São Paulo. Approved in all, she opted for the University of Campinas, where she also did her doctorate.

The researcher broke boundaries after the post-doctoral invitation at Harvard in the United States. The institution is one of the most respected in the world.

Source: Notícias da TV 

About Marques Travae 3109 Articles
Marques Travae. For more on the creator and editor of BLACK WOMEN OF BRAZIL, see the interview here.

1 Comment

  1. I’m happy that Tais recognized that her color wasn’t the same as Joana D’Arc Felix. It’s important to show that darker skin black people especially black women can achieve greatness! Tais meant well but had she played the role it would have just reinforced the stereotype that only lighter skin blacks can be successful in Brazil.

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