When actress Aline Borges, 47, appeared in “Pantanal,” the soap opera had been on the air for nearly two months, and audiences who already loved Isabel Teixeira’s charismatic Maria Bruaca did not welcome her “rival,” Zuleica. Lover of Tenório (Murilo Benício), with whom he had a secret family outside of marriage.
“They didn’t see her as a second family, but as ‘the other’. I got messages from people who attacked the character and always as a woman: ‘She’s a dog, a bitch’. What do you think people ?And that man?, sexist, racist, homophobic, all bad, and the woman who takes the stone is the woman,” he said. “Zuleica deserves to be acquitted by the public.”
The character has a very complex, even contradictory profile: despite being a “determined, independent and feminist” woman, according to the interpreter, she has spent more than two decades in the role of lover, raising the couple’s three children alone. In scenes to be aired over the next few days, she will reveal that she was a rape victim when she was young and ended up pregnant feeling fragile and alone she ended up in a relationship with Tenório, lying to the baby was his Son.
In the first version, Zuleica and her three children were portrayed by white actors: “It is necessary to commend Bruno Luperi’s decision [que escreveu a atual versão de “Pantanal”] to start a black family”, says Aline, who also regrets that there is only a black core. Then you can say: ok, we have equality”.
In her 27year career, the actress says, “you can count on the fingers of one hand the roles she’s played outside of the submissive cliché — poverty, violence, housework — but she doesn’t have it as one.” Facet of racism perceived because, until four years ago I did not understand that I am a black woman.
This discovery didn’t come until the age of 42, when she was invited to join a cast of black actors in the play Contos Negreiros do Brasil and asked, “Ué, but I’m not black,” she recalled in an interview With universe.
“I grew up straightening my hair, my mother spent her life tuning my nose with her hand, with the preacher. It took me a long time to recognize myself as a black woman. In a racist country like Brazil, nobody wants to be black.”
Check out the best snippets of the conversation:
“Zuleica deserves to be acquitted by the public”
“There was a huge rejection of Zuleica. The public did not see them as a second family, but as ‘the other’. This softened a little as she started showing empathy for Maria [na novela, a personagem defende os direitos da primeira esposa do marido]Nevertheless, there is a big prejudice, people don’t understand that this man has a parallel family although this is very common in Brazil.
These families exist. We must stop throwing stones, judging and put ourselves in the place of this woman and her children. If this second family has arisen, it is because there is affection.
I received many messages from people who attacked Zuleica and always as a woman: “It’s a dog, a bitch”. How so, folks? And this man? I’ve never seen an attack of this level in Tenorio. He can be cheating, sexist, racist, homophobic, all evil, and the woman is the one who takes the stone. Zuleica deserves to be acquitted by the public.”
Zuleica (Aline Borges) with her three children, played by Lucas Leto, Gabriel Santana and Cauê Campos
Image: Globo/João Miguel Júnior
“‘Pantanal’ has only a core of black actors”
“There is a scene scheduled to air this week in which Zuleica tells Marcelo and Guta about the sexual violence she suffered and remembers how she started working in the hospital: she was a day laborer, like most women unfortunately used to be some cleaning to pay for her nursing course.
As I read this text, I felt so much pain. The day I read that scene, I was sitting in the aisles of Globo Studios and I realized that of all the people walking by actors, directors, technicians those carrying a broom, a cleaning cart, were black were. Sometimes we’re on the run and don’t realize it, but black people are still in subservient jobs.
I’ve had a career spanning 27 years, but I can count on the fingers of one hand how many characters I’ve made who escaped that cliché: I started out as a maid at Adriana Esteves’ house in Coração de Estudante. then I was the maid in the house of Marcos Palmeira and Deborah Evelyn in “Celebridade” then I bandit, manicure?
Most black people on television fill these roles and their characters have no family, no story, no complexity, no plot.
I look forward to the day when I go on a recording set and see 50% black people. Then you can say: ok, we have equal rights. If a set has a small quota of Blacks and not 50/50, there is no equality, that’s a racist set.
A soap opera like Pantanal has only a black core. It is necessary to commend Bruno Luperi’s decision to include this black family in Pantanal, which brings racial issues to the soap opera, because we cannot fight alone, we need antiracist allies.
But the telenovela only has a black core. And structural racism lets us normalize that — turn on the TV and don’t see a black person, even if we’re more than half the population.
When Maria Bethânia sings in the opening that “the children of our children, children’s children, will see” [trecho da música “Pantanal”, originalmente gravada por Marcus Viana], she talks about it: Maybe neither my daughter nor I will be alive to see the results of the fight we are fighting against racism today. But our children’s children will see.”
Image: Advertisement/Gabriel Farhat Image: Advertisement/Gabriel Farhat
“It’s not easy to say, ‘I’m a black woman'”
“It took me a long time to recognize myself as a black woman. In a racist country like Brazil nobody wants to be black, not even black people.
I’m not dark skinned and grew up in a nonracial family that doesn’t recognize themselves as black, so I figured I wasn’t black. I grew up straightening my hair, my mother spent her life thinning my nose with her hand, with a clothespin.
At the age of 42 I was invited to do the play Contos Negreiros do Brasil, a play with all black actors. And when they called me, I was like, “Uh, but I’m not black.”
In the first rehearsals, the director asked each actor to write a monologue about their own life, and again I thought, “I’m not black, I don’t have stories.” But when I picked up pen and paper, it all came from the stories I heard about me and my brother as a kid things like “He’s so black and she’s so pale” or “Wow, he was in the oven longer ‘ and I wrote my whole career up until then when I started to see myself as a black woman.
Of course it’s not overnight. When you’ve been in denial of your roots all your life, it’s not easy to say, “I’m a black woman,” but little by little I understood it all. Racist Brazil does this: ‘Oh, you’re not dark, you’re not black,’ because as long as you don’t recognize yourself, you stop fighting for your rights.”