by André Rezende
Actress, model, dancer and muse of Carnival. But make no mistake, the beautiful and sensual Quitéria Chagas is much more than a perfect face and body.
Nowadays, how do you assess the fact of being a black woman in Brazil, even more being beautiful and with a sculptured body like yours?
Being black, a woman, artist, actress, working with a samba school, dancing … Wow! It’s killing a lion a day, only speaking of all this I’m tired (laughs). It’s not only the fact of being black, I carry with me all the possible labels and stereotypes and breaking them every day is a struggle that strengthens me. Each time you break through a barrier it’s a victory. People who are not from the Samba or do not know my life story, when they look at me, the first thing they say is that I came from the community, that I have danced Samba since I was a little girl on the block that I didn’t go to college, that I’m a body, that the queen of Samba doesn’t think, don’t know how to write, express themselves, that I have a sad family history to tell, that I went hungry … They think that every black person has the same story. It’s hard to believe that there are also other stories, other lives far from the stereotype.
Blacks themselves sometimes become frightened, doubt, because they are not used to hearing other stories. I live my life being questioned, having to impose and prove myself. I don’t blame anyone, it is a question of custom and culture that only with the passing of years, when there is a higher proportion of cultured blacks, with different stories, that the world won’t be astonished by anything anymore. When the different becomes normal, no more prejudice will exist!
The stereotypes of women as “beautiful and sexy” and with nothing in the head, is still very strong in Brazil. Does that bother you?
It doesn’t bother me, because already people perceive, by my posture, something different and they get scared. It makes me laugh, makes you want to say, “ah, gotcha!” (Laughs). Some women with this stereotype are the ones that make this image remain this way, mainly Brazilian women living abroad. They did and do so many stupid things that they burned the image of Brazilian women. We have the duty of changing history, to make a difference and encourage young people to do the same.
A woman can be cultured and beautiful, work out, take care of her body, expose her beauty without vulgarity. To be educated has to be sloppy, without sensuality, having to set cancel out being a woman? It’s very crazy the way people think, label and create prejudices using social masks. Many beautiful and educated women, to command respect, they hide their sensuality with shame and fear of pre-judgments. I think it’s a lack of culture, you have to act the way that you are, with your personality and not based on what others think. It’s great to make a difference and shocking people in a good sense, proving that physical beauty can and should be associated with culture. One does not cancel out the other.
What is the weight of education and culture in your personal and professional life? How was your basis in that sense?
To me, education, courses, professional training, are everything to be a professional who wants to make a difference. It is the basis of life, when you seek culture, become professional, attain security and attitude in your art, and success is inevitable. You need to convince the public of your art, and for this you need to perfect yourself. Talent is the gift that God gives, but the rough stone to be polished with culture. The duty of every artist is to go through this for the public and leave a good legacy, so that the young people have good references and seek knowledge in everything that they propose to do.
How do you see the situation of blacks in modern society?
They lack educated black men and women, highly qualified, vying for equality in the job market, without relying on quotas in executive positions of large companies, scientists, publishers of newspapers and magazines, TV directors, finally, black men and women, people of humble origins growing in life, winning and reaching these great positions to balance the system, being a reference, paving the way for others to say to the world how like Obama “Yes we can!”
See a photo essay of Quitéria here.
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