Actress Zulika from 'Pantanal': My mother used to set my nose with a clothespin

Actress Zulika from ‘Pantanal’: My mother used to set my nose with a clothespin

When 47-year-old actress Aline Borges appeared in the TV series “Pantanal”, the TV series had been on the air for about two months, and the audience, already fond of the charismatic character Isabel Teixeira, Maria Broca, did not welcome her “rival” Zulica., lover of Tenorio (Murilo Benicio), With whom he kept a secret family out of wedlock.

They didn’t see her as a second family, but the ‘other’. I got messages from people attacking the character, always as a woman: ‘She’s a dog, a bitch.’ What do you mean, people? This guy?, being sexist, racist, anti-gay, and everything bad. And the woman who takes the stone is the woman,” she criticizes. “Zoleka deserves to be acquitted by the public.”

The character has a very complex, even paradoxical, portrait: despite being a “well-designed, independent and feminist” woman, in the words of the interpreter, she has spent more than two decades in the role of lover and raising the couple’s three children on her own. In the scenes that will air in the next few days, she’ll reveal that she was a rape victim in her youth and got pregnant – feeling weak and lonely, she ended up getting into a relationship with Tenório and lying to the baby. was his son.

In the first version, white actors represented Zulika and her three children: “It is necessary to pay tribute to Bruno Luberi’s decision [que escreveu a atual versão de “Pantanal”] From the status of a black family,” says Allen, who also regrets having only one black core. Then you can say: Well, we have equality.”

In her 27 years in the business, the actress says you can count on the fingers of one hand the roles she’s played outside the stereotype of subservience — poverty, violence, domestic work — but she didn’t realize this as a facet of racism because, up to four years ago, I did not understand that I am a black woman.

This discovery occurred only at the age of 42, when she was invited to join the cast of black actors in the play “Contos Negreiros do Brasil”, and asked her: “Ué, but I am not black,” she recalls, 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 identify myself as a black woman. In a racist country like Brazil, no one wants to be black.”

Check out the best conversation excerpts:

“Zuleka deserves to be acquitted by the public.”

“There was a huge disapproval of Zulika. The public did not see her as a second family, but as the ‘other.’ That eased a bit when she began to show sympathy for Maria. [na novela, a personagem defende os direitos da primeira esposa do marido]However, there is a huge bias, people do not understand that this man has a parallel family – although this is very common in Brazil.

These families exist. We must stop throwing stones and judging and put ourselves in the shoes of this woman and her children. If this second family appears, it is because there is passion.

I get many messages from people attacking Zuleika, and always as a woman: “He’s a dog, a bitch.” How is that, people? And this guy? I’ve never seen an attack of this level on Tenorio. He can cheat, sexism, racism, homophobia, everything bad, and it’s the woman who takes the stone. Zuleika deserves to be acquitted by the public.”

Zulika (Aline Borges) with her three children, played by Lucas Leto, Gabriel Santana and Coy Campos

Photo: Globo / João Miguel Júnior

The Pantanal has a core of only black actors.

“There is a scene, which should be aired this week, in which Zulica tells Marcelo and Gota about the sexual violence she experienced, and remembers how she started working in the hospital: She was a day laborer who, like most women, unfortunately, used to do some cleaning to pay for her nursing course.

Reading this text, I felt great pain. The day I read this scene, I was sitting in the hallways of Globo Studios, and I realized that all the people who passed by—actors, directors, technicians—those who carried a broom and a cleaning cart were black. Sometimes we’re on the run and don’t notice, but blacks are still in submissive jobs.

I have a career spanning 27 years, but I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of characters who have escaped this stereotype: I started as a maid in the house of Adriana Esteves, in “Coração de Estudante” [2002]Then I was the maid in the house of Marcos Palmera and Deborah Evelyn in “Celebridade” [2003]Then did the bandits, manicure?

Most blacks on TV fill these roles—and their characters have no family, no history, no complexity, no plot.

I’m excited for the day I walk on a record set and see 50% black people. Then you can say: Well, we have equality. If a group has a small share of blacks and not a 50/50 ratio, then there is no equality, then this is a racist group.

TV series like Pantanal have a core of only blacks. It’s necessary to commend Bruno Luberi’s decision to put this black family in the Pantanal, which brings racial issues to the series, because we can’t fight alone, we need anti-racist allies.

But the telenovela has only a core of blacks. And structural racism makes us normalize that – turn on the TV and we don’t see a black person, even if we’re more than half the population.

When Maria Bethany sings at the opening that “Children of our children’s children will see” [trecho da música “Pantanal”, originalmente gravada por Marcus Viana]Talk about this: My daughter and I probably won’t be alive to see the results of the battle we’re fighting today against racism. But our children’s children our children will see.”

Aline Borges - Press release / Gabriel Farhat - Press release / Gabriel Farhat
Photo: Advertising / Gabriel Farhat
Aline Borges - Press release / Gabriel Farhat - Press release / Gabriel Farhat
Photo: Advertising / Gabriel Farhat

“It’s not easy to say, I’m a black woman”

“It took me a long time to identify myself as a black woman. In a racist country like Brazil, no one wants to be black, not even black people.

I don’t have dark skin and was raised in a family with no racial conscience, and doesn’t identify itself as black, so I thought I wasn’t black. I grew up straightening my hair, my mother spent her life thinning my nose with her hand with clothespins.

At the age of 42, she was invited to do the play “Contos Negreiros do Brasil”, a work with only black actors. And when they called me, I asked, “Ah, but I’m not black.”

At the first rehearsals, the director asked each actor to write a monologue about his private life, and again, I thought: “I’m not black, I don’t have stories.” But when I picked up a pen and paper, it all came: From the stories I had heard as a child about me and my brother—things like, ‘He’s so black and she’s so pale’ or ‘Wow, he’s been in the oven longer’—and I was writing all my tracks. Until then, when I began to understand myself as a black woman.

It’s not overnight, of course. When you deny your roots all your life, it is not easy to say “I am a black woman”, but gradually I understood everything. Racist Brazil does this: “Oh, you don’t have dark skin, you’re not black,” because as long as you don’t recognize yourself, you stop fighting for your rights.”

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