by Mariana Wheat
Leilah Moreno talks about her career as an actress and singer
Leilah Moreno cannot go unnoticed. With a body sculpted by workouts, the mulata with the long, colored blond hair and deep voice ensures that her acting career was the result of her love for music. Born into a musical family in São José dos Campos, in the interior of the state of São Paulo, the 28-year old actress began to weave song and theater early on, with acting classes along with her study of music in college.
All this history was the inspiration for the composition the detestable villain that the actress plays in the novela Aquele Beijo. The character is called Grace Kelly in honor of the eternal diva of cinema, but the biggest inspiration of the character, however, is the look of the American singer Beyonce. “In the beginning of the novela, the production team offered me big black and curly hair, but then they gave me a stage look, more Beyoncé. I found this incredible,” she laughs. This is not the first time Leilah has been compared to or inspired by something to do with the reigning American pop/R&B princess.
However, Leilah only hesitated when she discovered that she had been chosen to portray a detestable villain. “I was shocked and I was worried because they thought that this was my profile, but today I am flattered because of the repercussions of Grace,” says the actress, who was inspired by other prominent villains in the history of Brazilian soap operas, like the character Rachel, of Mulheres de Areia and Maria de Fatima, of Vale Tudo, both played by actress Glória Pires.
Not to mention that she even bought the box-set of the novela Roque Santeiro, to get the most out of her character in a similar vein to the over-the-top manner that actress Regina Duarte used to portray the exuberant Viúva Porcina character in that famous novela. “Today I realize the highlight of this character on the streets. People gave me a great moral lesson,” says the actress, who debuted on TV as Barbarah, in the Hip Hop-inspired series Antônia, a TV production adapted from the film of Tata Amaral. “The series premiered before the film. Before that, I didn’t have a notion of what it was to be recognized,” recalls the actress, who at that time had already launched her third CD as a singer of pop and black music.
Leilah, third from the left, in the series Antônia
It was through her tone and musical style that Leilah spent six years as a vocalist of the band of the late night variety show Altas Horas, with host Serginho Groisman. “I had to leave the show because I could not fit it in with the novela. But Sergio said the gates would be open for me,” she remembers.
Leilah, middle, on the set of Altas Horas
The actress that has been singing since the age of nine, formed her first band at the age of 12, to participate in a program of rocker Raul Gil and began opening shows for singers like pop star Daniela Mercury and internationally recognized musician Milton Nascimento. Working with electronic music since 2008, Leilah plans to go back and record a CD when Aquele Beijo
ran its course this past April.
“My inspiration comes from old singers like Billie Holiday, Aretha Franklin and even Whitney Houston. Brazilians accept this kind of music very well when it comes from outside of the country. But when someone from here sings, they find it tacky,” laments the actress, whose current hit You’re Not Here is among the most played songs in Mexico in recent months. “I was supposed to be there promoting (the song), but I can’t go because of the novela. People think that I use my acting career in order to sing, but it’s the other way around. I always sang and acting came later,” she explains, posing with the face of a pop diva.
Speaking of Whitney Houston, check out a video of one of Leilah’s covers of one of Whitney’s classics:
Leilah Moreno sings Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You”