Taís Araújo is an award-winning model, television host and actress of film and television. She is perhaps the most visible black woman in the Brazilian entertainment industry. Her accomplishments represent not only personal achievements, but go hand-in-hand with the Afro-Brazilian struggle for equality in Brazilian society. Araújo’s meteoric rise to superstardom comes at a time when more Brazilians of African descent have been able to enroll in Brazil’s finest universities after long fought struggles for the implementation of Affirmative Action policies. Her rise also coincides with the success of the longest running magazine devoted to Afro-Brazilians, Raça Brasil, and the opening of Brazil’s first black university, Unipalmares.
Since her debut in Brazilian soap operas, Araújo has accumulated an impressive list of firsts to add to her resumé. Since 1996, she has been:
- The first black actress to play a protagonist in a Brazilian soap opera (1996)
- The first black protagonist of a soap opera on Brazil’s top TV network, Globo (2004)
- The first black woman to host a television beauty program (2006)
- The first black protagonist of a Globo* soap opera of the 8pm hour (prime time) (2009)
- The first black woman to portray the character of “Helena” in a soap opera of author Manoel Carlos (A pioneer of Brazilian television, there have been six Carlos soap operas featuring a lead character by the name of Helena) (2009)
- The first black woman to appear on the cover of the Brazilian women’s magazine, Nova (2010).
Araújo takes all of her accomplishments in stride, seeing her good fortune as a combination of luck, commitment, discipline and dedication. Although she recognizes the importance of her accomplishments, she also could “do without all of these titles that also show the existent prejudice and backwardness in my country that I love so much.” In speaking of this issue of prejudice in Brazil, Araújo confirms that “every black suffers prejudice in this country, be they artist or not.” She also hopes that Afro-Brazilian actors will soon be able to portray characters that are not so stereotypical of black Brazilians.
She is married to Brazil’s most visible black male actor, Lázaro Ramos, and the couple recently had their first child together.
* – The Globo Network (Rede Globo) is the top television network in Brazil, the fourth-largest public TV commercial network in the world and one of the largest producers of soap operas.
Source: Black Women of Brazil