Brazilian novela “Lado a Lado” wins Emmy Award; series portrayed the situation of blacks after the abolition of slavery

The Globo TV novela "Lado a Lado" featuring Camila Pitanga (left), Zezé Barbosa (center) and Lázaro Ramos won the 2013 Emmy Award for best novela
The Globo TV novela “Lado a Lado” featuring Camila Pitanga (left), Zezé Barbosa (center) and Lázaro Ramos won the 2013 Emmy Award for best novela

Note from BW of Brazil: Recently here at BW of Brazil, we presented the news that FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) had rejected the suggestion of actors Lázaro Ramos and Camila Pitanga to act as hosts of the ceremonial Final Draw of World Cup teams to take place next month in Bahia. As the duo was replaced by a couple both from the primarily white region of southern Brazil, the internet was abuzz about another apparent racial slight in regards to the Afro-Brazilian population. While the news must have been disappointing, Ramos and Pitanga didn’t have to wallow in this news for very long as they received news of a great international victory very shortly thereafter. Check out the story below.

Glovo TV's "Lado a Lado"
Globo TV’s “Lado a Lado”

There was a surprise in the biggest prize in the world television: Lado a Lado won the International Emmy for best telenovela on Monday night (25) in New York. Fernanda Montenegro took the award for best actress for the special Doce de Mãe.

The serial competed with the favorite Avenida Brasil, another Brazilian novela, the Angolan Windeck and the Canadian 30 Vies. In social networks, many people complained about the award and considered the victory an injustice to the João Emanuel Carneiro novela. But there were those who celebrated, like the author Aguinaldo Silva.

"Lado a Lado" wins Emmy - actor Thiago Fragoso, writers João Ximenes Braga and Claudia Lage and director Vinicius Coimbra at the Emmy Awards in New York
“Lado a Lado” wins Emmy – actor Thiago Fragoso, writers João Ximenes Braga and Claudia Lage and director Vinicius Coimbra at the Emmy Awards in New York

Lado a Lado was written by João Ximenes Braga e Cláudia Lage and narrated the story of two women (one white and one black) in the conservative society of the early 20th century. Despite receiving good reviews, the novel was left with only 18 audience ratings points.

“When we started this synopsis, we ended up at Globo (TV). We made one novela each as a collaborator and we wanted to show service, we didn’t imagine that the novel was going to be produced, even more having (actress) Patrícia Pillar, (actor) Lázaro Ramos…Being here for us is a such a huge profit that I don’t even know how to define it,” said João  Ximenes.

At the end of the novela, the characters José Maria and Isabel get married
At the end of the novela, the characters José Maria and Isabel get married

Here is a brief breakdown of the award-winning novela (courtesy of Wikipedia)

Lado a Lado (meaning Side by Side) is a Brazilian telenovela produced and broadcast by Rede Globo from September 10, 2012 to March 8, 2013. Written by Claudia Lage and João Ximenes Braga, with collaborations by Chico Soares, Douglas Tourinho, Fernando Rebello, Vellego Jackie, Nina Crintzs and Maria Camargo, script supervision by Gilberto Braga, directed by Dennis Carvalho and core general direction of Vinicius Coimbra, it stars Camila Pitanga and Marjorie Estiano as the main characters.

Set in Rio de Janeiro at the beginning of the 20th century, Lado a Lado tells the story of a friendship between two women: Laura (Marjorie Estiano), a white girl, daughter of a baroness, and Isabel (Camila Pitanga), descendent of a poor slave. Despite their very different origins and backgrounds, the two girls become very close while aspiring to a future of equality between men and women, and between black and white people. They meet on their wedding day and build a friendship annoys Constância (Patrícia Pillar), Laura’s mother, a baroness who refuses to accept the innovations of the twentieth century and the change of the country into a republic.

Keys topics approached in the novela:

  • Laura (Marjorie Estiano) and Isabel’s (Camila Pitanga) story had discussions about sexism, female emancipation and sexual freedom of women.
  • The prejudice suffered by single mothers (as Isabel and Catarina) and divorced women (as Laura), and social and cultural inclusion of lower classes and African descendants, such as José Maria (Lázaro Ramos) and Isabel, after the end of the slavery and monarchy.
  • Discussions on religious freedom and inclusion of African-Brazilian culture (samba, capoeira, candomblé), as Tia Jurema (Zezé Barbosa), Isabel and José Maria.
  • The origin of soccer in Brazil by the elite, and the exclusion of the lower classes.
"Lado a Lado" centers around the friendship between two women: Laura, a white girl, daughter of a baroness, and Isabel, a descendent of a poor slave
“Lado a Lado” centers around the friendship between two women: Laura, a white girl, daughter of a baroness, and Isabel, a descendent of a poor slave

Note from BW of Brazil: Back in April, the novela was given an award from a well-known social organization specializing in fighting and securing the rights of poor, communities of color. Here how the award was reported back in April.

Writers João Ximenes Braga (far left) and Cláudia Lage (far right) pose with award and novela's cast Sheron Menezes,  Marcelo Mello Jr., Milton Gonçalves and Zezé Barbosa
Writers João Ximenes Braga (far left) and Cláudia Lage (far right) pose with award and novela’s cast Sheron Menezes, Marcelo Mello Jr., Milton Gonçalves and Zezé Barbosa

The 6pm novela of the Globo network, Lado a Lado, was awarded by the Centro de Articulação de Populações Marginalizadas (CEAP or Joint Center for Marginalized Populations (CEAP), in Rio de Janeiro, on Wednesday, April 24th. The story won in the Veículo de Comunicação (Vehicle of Communication) category for showing the situation of blacks after the abolition of slavery and making viewers reflect on the current condition of blacks in Brazil.

Camila Pitanga, Zezé Barbosa and Sheron Menezes in "Lado a Lado"
Camila Pitanga, Zezé Barbosa and Sheron Menezes in “Lado a Lado”

The event also saw the participation of the authors of Lado a Lado, João Braga Ximenes and Cláudia Lage, plus cast members Sheron Menezes, Zezé Barbosa, Marcelo Mello Jr., and Milton Gonçalves, who along with the other actors took to the stage to receive award.

“I am grateful to João and Cláudia for giving the opportunity and causing us this reflection through playwriting. However, the change depends not only on well-written stories by the authors, it depends on us, our actions and our knowledge,” said the long-time actor.

Note from BW of Brazil: Barbosa was recently presented with a 2013 Troféu Raça Negra for her role in the novela.

Pitanga and Ramos. The cast of "Lado a Lado" featured nine Afro-Brazilian actors in prominent roles
Pitanga and Ramos. The cast of “Lado a Lado” featured nine Afro-Brazilian actors in prominent roles

Note from BW of Brazil: Another intriguing historical fact from Brazilian history portrayed in the novela was the struggle of Afro-Brazilians entering the world of professional soccer. While over the past 60 years Brazil has built a reputation of producing some of the world’s top players, most of them Afro-Brazilian, this wasn’t always the case. In the early days of the sport in Brazil, only white, elite players were allowed on the top soccer clubs of the era. When the talent of black players became too great to continue their exclusion, the entry onto professional squads still wasn’t completely accepted, as demonstrated in a peculiar practice.

Controversy on Lado a Lado: Chico wears pó de arroz (rice powder) to play on the team of the whites

In one controversial scene, Chico (played by César Mello) dons rice powder to play on a soccer club
In one controversial scene, Chico (played by César Mello) dons rice powder to play on a soccer club

If today football (soccer) is a democratic sport, in the beginning the situation was quite different. In the early years of the twentieth century, football (imported from the English spelling, which was only “Brazilianized” some time later – “futebol”) was the privilege of the elite; and of the whites, of course.

Ramos and Mello in a scene from "Lado a Lado"
Ramos and Mello in a scene from “Lado a Lado”

In Lado a Lado, the situation begins to change. Chico (played by César Mello) surprised the elitists by showing off his talent with the ball. Albertinho (played by Rafael Cardoso) wasted no time and invited the guy to join the team. However, as at the time the teams did not accept black players, the boys find a curious alternative.  Chico is made up with pó de arroz (rice powder), so that from a distance, he looks as white as his teammates. According to Extra (newspaper), the scene was inspired by a real event that happened to the player Carlos Alberto (1), of the Fluminense soccer team (in Rio de Janeiro) in 1914.

Note from BW of Brazil: Another of the memorable scenes of the evening soap opera was the wedding of Isabel and José María at the end of the series. For a look at this beautifully filmed scene, see here.

Lado a Lado: Isabel (Camila Pitanga) and José María (Lázaro Ramos) get married

The wedding of Isabel and José María
The wedding of Isabel and José María

Friday March 8, 2013

Isabel’s character, played by Camila Pitanga in Lado a Lado will finally marry her great love, José Maria, played by Lázaro Ramos. The last day of the 6 o’clock Globo novela, promises a happy ending, in the same day that Marjorie Estiano, Laura in the plot, will turn 31 years old!

The wedding ceremony takes place in the backyard of Tia Jurema (Zezé Barbosa). All are very happy, Zé Maria, however, fears that something might prevent his long awaited official union with his beloved woman. This fear is rooted in the past, when he was arrested and Isabel left waiting at the altar. Quite nervous about the delay of the bride, Zé asks Tia Jurema to check if something had happened.

Camila Pitanga and Milton Gonçalves in wedding scene of "Lado a Lado"
Camila Pitanga and Milton Gonçalves in wedding scene of “Lado a Lado”

“The late one here is you, Zé…,” replied Tia with good humor. Soon after, Isabel arrives, arm in arm with Afonso (Milton Gonçalves). Already holding hands at the altar, the couple receives the words of Tia Jurema. “I offer to you honey, that brings the sweetness, salt, that brings the truth and taste of life, olive oil, that makes life light and fluid, and clean water, the promise of freshness and fertility.” Emotion, then, descends upon of everyone, especially the newlyweds: “My husband, for life,” says Isabel. “My wife, now and forever,” replied Zé.

Note from BW of Brazil: As featured recently here on the blog, Lázaro Ramos and Camila Pitanga received disappointing news when they were rejected by FIFA as prospective hosts for the Final Draw ceremony of the World Cup that is scheduled for next month in Bahia. The Emmy Award is thus a great consolation prize. Ramos shared his joy through his Twitter account.

"'Lado a Lado' best novela and Fernanda Montenegro best actress!!! Very exciting!!! Congratulations to all!!!"
“‘Lado a Lado’ best novela and Fernanda Montenegro best actress!!! Very exciting!!! Congratulations to all!!!”
"I am exploding with joy!!!!"
“I am exploding with joy!!!!”

Note: After news of the victory, Pitanga had this to say to the Terra website:

“I am getting many calls, instant messages and affectionate messages. Besides enchanting with the entertainment, the novela had a mission of speaking of an era of Rio and Brazil where samba was born; blacks positioned themselves as critical thought, victors. Then, the paradigms that the novel brings has to do with what I believe for the world. I don’t give up doing quality work coupled with a desire to talk about Brazil, portraying a moment that is not well known. At the time of the novela, on the air, I received feedback from teachers, young people, saying they had never heard of the revolta da chibata (revolt against the whip) (2). All this is a source of great pride.”

Still scenes from Lado a Lado

“Revolta da chibata” reproduced in Lado a Lado

Video and photos about the “Revolta da chibata” (text in Portuguese)

Source: RD1, ABC, Veja SP, iBahia, Pure People, A Tarde, Clic RBS,

Notes

1. This piece of Brazilian soccer history was discussed previously here.

 João Cândido Felisberto, leader of the "Revolta da chibata" rebellion in 1910
João Cândido Felisberto, leader of the “Revolta da chibata” rebellion in 1910

2. A highly celebrated incident in black Brazilian history,  the Revolta da chibata (revolt against the whip or revolt of the lash) (see video above) was a 1910 naval incident that occurred in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Despite the two-year organization and strategies of the movement against the common use of a lash in disciplining crewmen, the mostly black crews of four Brazilian warships, led by João Cândido Felisberto, mutinied on 22 November, shortly after a sailor, Marcelino Rodrigues Menezes, publicly received 250 lashes. The crews deposed their white officers and threatened to bombard Rio de Janeiro. The mutiny was resolved within a week, with an amnesty that the Brazilian Government then did not honor. Consequently, a climate of unrest lasted for months. The navy discharged 2000 sailors but this was the last occasion on which the Brazilian navy used the lash. Source

João Cândido Felisberto
João Cândido Felisberto

João Cândido Felisberto: In 1910, after a hugely unpopular whipping of a sailor, he led a revolt, known in Brazil as “Revolta da Chibata” (“Revolt of the Whip”). Sailors took control of two Brazilian battleships, Minas Geraes and São Paulo, both built in England, as well as two other major warships. Their demands included the abolition of torture as a form of punishment and improved living conditions in the Brazilian Navy. The new Brazilian president, Hermes da Fonseca, approved an amnesty, but the government later went back on this promise. In the revolt’s aftermath Felisberto and many of his follower mutineers were either arrested, tortured or murdered in prison. Felisberto himself was tortured, and also contracted tuberculosis, but he recovered after some months and was eventually released. The Brazilian press nicknamed him “Almirante Negro”, or the “Black Admiral”, for his actions. Source

About Marques Travae 2985 Articles
Marques Travae. For more on the creator and editor of BLACK WOMEN OF BRAZIL, see the interview here.

7 Comments

  1. I don’t know what to say other than Brazil flew under the radar while the world focused on apartheid in South Africa. To try to portray Brazil as a “white” country when its population is perhaps majority non-white is truly amazing.

    • I must agree with you, but what is happening now to Brazil is a civil war in 2013 – ??? Brazil is a love country so the fight is happening gently… by out breaks of violence, protests and consistent fight in Black representations.

  2. Very sadly this is what happens when folks continue to ‘bury their heads’ in the sand, when it comes to the ‘truth’ about the untold history of ‘blacks’ the world over. It isn’t just about Brazil or America, this is the “world” we live in. Tais Araujo should not still be the ONLY black actress in Brasil to have a ‘leading role’, what happened to the other very talented black actresses in that country as well? I knew a ‘wake up’ was coming just sad it took this long to get there, some progress is better than none I guess.
    Muito infelizmente e isso que acontece quando as pessoas continuar a enterrar a cabeca na areia, qunado se trata de a ‘verdade’ sobre a historia nao contada dos negros em todo mundo. Nao se trata apenas de Brasil ou na America, Este e o mundo em que vivemos. Tais Araujo nao deve ser a unica atriz negra no Brasil ter um papel, de lideranca em t.v.,o que aconteceu com as outras atrizes negras talentosas no seu pais tambem? Eu sabia que a ‘despertar’ estava vindo para Brasil, e apenas triste que demorou tanto tempo para chegar aqui, algum progresso e melhor que nada eu acho.

  3. Bea K.

    Well, Thais Araujo is not the only black actress in Brazil. The piece of news above showed that Camila Pitanga won awards for her part in “Lado a lado”.

  4. Brazil is such a beautiful country, but it leaves me perpetually tired from its seemingly inescapable racialized societal hierarchy. Did Pitanga or Ramos win awards for Lado? All of the people in the picture holding awards appeared to be White to me. As a person with roots in the US and Brazil, it seems to me that the barriers to advancement for Afrodescendants are higher and more persistent in Brazil than in the US. It’s great that stories about Black history (as told by Whites) win awards, but when will Afrodescendants reap the benefits?

  5. Thanks for any other wonderful post. Where else could anybody get
    that kind of info in such an ideal way of writing? I
    have a presentation subsequent week, and I’m at the search
    for such information.

1 Trackback / Pingback

  1. With ever increasing acts of racism in soccer stadiums, the silence of the great Pelé is deafening |

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.