Note from BW of Brazil: Sometimes in life it’s necessary to stop, step back and think for a few minutes so that it’s possible to see ‘the big picture’, as they say. Apparently, this is some advice that long-time actress Solange Couto took to heart. The actress is not what someone would call an ‘A-List’ actress and many people probably know her name but they certainly recognize her face as she’s been in numerous television productions over the years. But recently the actress took a pause and came to the conclusion that most of the roles she’s played in her career were positions that the Brazilian media and society itself reserves for black women.
For example, in 2008, Couto starred in the play Cinco Mulheres por um Fio, a comedy in which she played five characters including a sexologist and a maid who thinks she is pregnant with her seventh child. Couto of course began her career in the 1970s as one of the Sargentelli showgirls that gained fame playing off the long-time stereotype of the overtly sexual ‘mulata’. At 58, it appears that Couto has caught onto the game. Good for her, but in a Brazilian media that seems to only offer these types of roles to black women, what happens next?
After portraying a maid 25 times on TV, actress actress Solange Couto denounces racism
The actress utilized the campaign “Senti na Pele” (I felt it up close), which brought together reports of prejudice in the month of Black Consciousness, to criticize racism and stereotypes that are perpetuated in Brazilian novelas (soap operas).
Courtesy of Revista Fórum
With more than 30 years on TV, the actress Solange Couto, 59, has played a number of characters. The actress’s successful career, however, comes up against a structural issue that of the country that is further perpetuated with the influence of novelas (soap operas): stereotypes of social class and racism. Of the 37 roles she played in novelas and mini-series, in 25 of them she brought life to maids or slaves. The figure was released by the actress herself in a photo published by the campaign “Senti na Pele”, which brings together reports of racism and prejudice in the month of Black Consciousness.
“37 papers, 25 black/slaves, 5 dancers, 7 non stereotyped,” she wrote on the poster in which she posed for the picture of actor Ernesto Xavier, one of the creators of the campaign.
In an interview with Xavier, Solange said that despite the racism, she interpreted her characters “masterfully well” but that she had never stopped to analyze the numbers.
“I had not realized that only five out of thirty-seven characters were average people or well positioned in the world. Only these five would really have your place in the world? A well regarded position, in which you could buy a jewel or that dress? It’s sad,” she said.
Check out more photos and reports of racism on the Facebook page Senti na Pele.