Isabel Fillardis is an actress and model who started her career at the age of 11. She was once represented by Ford Models and in 1993 she appeared in her first television series, Renanscer, as the character named Ritinha. She has since appeared in a number of television soap operas (novelas, as they are called in Brazil) including A Próxima Vítima (1995), that featured the first portrayal of a middle-class black Brazilian family on television, Corpo Dourado (1998), A Lua Me Disse (2005), Sete Pecados (2007) and recently Fina Estampa (2011). Fillardis has also appeared in films, including 1999’s remake of the 1959 classic Orpheu Negro entitled Orfeu.
Besides her work as a model and actress, Fillardis is also the founderof two NGOs, Doe Seu Lixo and A Força do Bem. Doe Seu Lixo (Donate Your Trash) helps people to generate income through the donation and recycling of trash and she began A Força do Bem (The Force of Well-Being) after the birth of her child Jamal who has West Syndrome, a rare epileptic disorder that affects infants. Through A Força do Bem, Fillardis helps poor mothers with basic necessities to care for children that are born with all sorts of illnesses and deficiencies.
As a black woman of poor origins, Fillardis is also very outspoken in regards to racial inequality in Brazil, and the lack of opportunities for Afro-Brazilian models and actors. In 2009, Fillardis responded to comments made by the fashion designer, Glória Coelho. For many years, black Brazilian models have made protests during Brazil’s annual Sao Paulo Fasion Week and Fashion Rio events where non-white models are consistently invisible or extremely underepresented on the catwalks.
Asked about the possibility of quotas being implemented to guarantee the presence of black models on runways, Coelho said: “In Fashion Week there are many blacks sewing, creating the clothes, many with hands of gold, making beautiful things, there are black assistants, sellers…why do they have to be on the runway?”
Told of Coelho’s comments, Fillardis responded:
“I don’t even need to say anything … I’m amazed. Blacks can only be servants, you understand where this prejudice comes from? It’s in the subconscious of the people. It’s subliminal. She doesn’t know that it is biased. I’ll believe it. This is prejudice. Blacks are only useful to serve. To shine on the catwalk, to be international, to make money, like Gisele (international model Bündchen) or as any one, (blacks) can’t. It‘s horrible. It hurts. It hurts a lot, you know? And I feel sorry (for her). I feel sorry. I really do.”
Asked how she would feel about being hired because of a quota, she said:
“No, no. I know I‘m capable. If I have to do a test so that they choose me, I prefer to do the test rather than being placed because of a quota. If the guy says to me: “No, Isabel, you failed the test, you did not impress me, I don’t think you‘re the one to do this …”, this is one thing. Now, if the guy did not give me the chance to show my work because I am black, then I don’t agree, that’s complicated. I think it’s valid to have a discussion, have a forum, a dialogue, whatever name we want to give it, and call upon people face-to-face to discuss it.”
Speaking on the situation of Afro-Brazilian actors today, Fillardis said:
“Things are improving, but we need to take bigger steps, especially in the arts. When a black actor wins a major role in a novela, the acceptance of the public proves the identification with this character.”
Source: Black Women of Brazil
Source: Black Women of Brazil