Note from BW of Brazil: All over the world, Rio de Janeiro is known for its beautiful beaches and its beautiful women. FYI, natives of Rio de Janeiro are known as cariocas. We find the origins of the term in the Tupi Guarani native Brazilian language meaning “white man’s house”. “Cari” meaning “white man” and “oca” meaning house. In a twist on this meaning, last Saturday a black woman won the right to represent the “white man’s house” for the next 50 years! I’m not sure how many people are familiar with the contest, but people will certainly become familiar with the smiling face of this brown-skinned beauty! We most definitely would like to see more women who look like have their chance to shine in the spotlight!
Elected from the Marvelous City: carioca from Rocinha is the new queen of RIO450
By Karyn Mota
Representing the Rocinha neighborhood, model Rafaella Lemes, 22, won on Saturday night (17) the Rainha (queen) Rio450 contest, held at the João Nogueira Cultural Centre, in Meier, in the North Zone of Rio. The candidates from Complexo do Alemão, Beatriz Madalena, and from Meier, Adriana Vilarde, came in 2nd and 3rd place respectively. Speaking to reporters, Rafaella was thrilled with the victory. “In preparation for this competition, I learned so much I had already heard, but that did not make sense in my head. It’s a dream to get this endowment of queen, representing Rio, representing Rocinha, where I was born and have always lived.”
Besides her presence and ease, Rafaella drew the attention of the jury with her smile. “One thing my father always says: The smile is our postcard. And I do it every day of my life. Always smiling. So that people always please the next one, and never do ill.”
“I have been working as a model for 8 years, and this is due to my mother because she also modeled at my age. I came up with this mixture of races, and backgrounds. My father is from Minas Gerais and my mother is from Rio Grande do Sul, and when I watched on TV the (fashion) parades it awakened in me a passion for fashion since childhood. But I never thought I would reach a position of queen.”
Rafaella gave tips for those who have the dream of being a model: “Be humble, friendly, always helping others because you never know about tomorrow, and love those around us. I just think of love.”
For her, the carioca’s (Rio native’s) secret is education. “Carioquice (cariocaness) to me, is nothing more than education. I learned that education is so important and so symbolic in human life that sometimes, a little word, a gesture, is very bad, you know? And I’ve felt it. And I’ve learned with Rio450 that we should be polite and friendly with people.
When asked if Solange Medina, former queen, was an inspiration, the model said: “The only person who inspired me really was my mother and it will always be her. I’m sorry for Solange! She’s beautiful, and had her moment and it was she who passed the crown to me.”
The 2nd edition of the event, which was first held in 1965 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the wonderful city, will provide the most beautiful carioca a reign of 50 years. The competition chose the candidate to present all the beauty and friendliness typical of the Carioca. Having been elected, Rafaella will participate in all official events for the anniversary of Rio, and will also get a brand new car.
Each of the 33 administrative regions of the city included a representative, and the jury were the president of Rio450 Committee, Marcelo Calero; the dancer Ana Botafogo; the director of the Copacabana Palace, Andrea Natal; the model Carol Francischini; journalist Marcia Disitzer; the photographer Marcelo Faustini; actress and promoter Nêga; hairdresser Neandro Ferreira; the director of Agência 40 graus, Sérgio Mattos; and the author of the blog “Soul do Rio de Janeiro” William Vorhnees.
To liven up the contest, unprecedented partnerships animated the crowd with songs that left the uniqueness of the carioca people clear. Performing on the stages of the Imperator were Simoninha and Toni Garrido; Sandra de Sá and Serjão Loroza; Luiza Possi and Zé Ricardo and Monique Kessous and Serjão Loroza. The opening ceremony featured great ballet performance conducted by Carlinhos de Jesus.