by André Rezende
Actress, model, dancerand muse of Carnival. But make no mistake, the beautiful and sensual QuitériaChagas is much more than a perfect face and body.
Nowadays, how do youassess the fact of being a black woman in Brazil, even more being beautiful andwith a sculptured body like yours?
Being black, a woman,artist, actress, working with a samba school, dancing … Wow! It’s killing alion a day, only speaking of all this I’m tired (laughs). It’s not only thefact of being black, I carry with me all the possible labels and stereotypesand breaking them every day is a struggle that strengthens me. Each time youbreak through a barrier it’s a victory. People who are not from the Samba or donot know my life story, when they look at me, the first thing they say is thatI came from the community, that I have danced Samba since I was a little girlon the block that I didn’t go to college, that I’m a body, that the queen ofSamba doesn’t think, don’t know how to write, express themselves, that I have asad family history to tell, that I went hungry … They think that every blackperson has the same story. It’s hard to believe that there are also otherstories, other lives far from the stereotype.
Blacks themselvessometimes become frightened, doubt, because they are not used to hearing otherstories. I live my life being questioned, having to impose and prove myself. Idon’t blame anyone, it is a question of custom and culture that only with thepassing of years, when there is a higher proportion of cultured blacks, withdifferent stories, that the world won’t be astonished by anything anymore. Whenthe different becomes normal, no more prejudice will exist!
The stereotypes ofwomen as “beautiful and sexy” and with nothing in the head, is stillvery strong in Brazil. Does that bother you?
It doesn’t bother me,because already people perceive, by my posture, something different and theyget 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 thingsthat they burned the image of Brazilian women. We have the duty of changinghistory, to make a difference and encourage young people to do the same.
A woman can be culturedand beautiful, work out, take care of her body, expose her beauty withoutvulgarity. To be educated has to be sloppy, without sensuality, having to setcancel out being a woman? It’s very crazy the way people think, label andcreate prejudices using social masks. Many beautiful and educated women, tocommand respect, they hide their sensuality with shame and fear ofpre-judgments. I think it’s a lack of culture, you have to act the way that youare, with your personality and not based on what others think. It’s great tomake a difference and shocking people in a good sense, proving that physicalbeauty can and should be associated with culture. One does not cancel out theother.
What is the weight ofeducation and culture in your personal and professional life? How was yourbasis in that sense?
To me, education,courses, professional training, are everything to be a professional who wantsto make a difference. It is the basis of life, when you seek culture, becomeprofessional, attain security and attitude in your art, and success isinevitable. You need to convince the public of your art, and for this you needto perfect yourself. Talent is the gift that God gives, but the rough stone tobe polished with culture. The duty of every artist is to go through this forthe public and leave a good legacy, so that the young people have goodreferences and seek knowledge in everything that they propose to do.
How do you see thesituation of blacks in modern society?
They lack educatedblack 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 andreaching these great positions to balance the system, being a reference, pavingthe 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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