A Tribute to Ruth de Souza (Pioneering actress) From Black Actors
Note from BW of Brazil: The tributes continue to pour in on social networks. Pioneering actress Ruth de Souza passed away on Sunday at the age of 98 and across Brazil, from the famous to everyday people, people shared their thoughts and made tributes to a woman who made the careers of numerous black Brazilian actors and actresses of later generations possible. The material below features the heartfelt sentiments of a few of those who honored the legacy and meaning of one of Brazil’s most important actresses.
“We will keep on you in your honor”: Black actors pay tribute to Ruth de Souza
By Silvia Nascimento
Making a simple adaptation of the word Ubuntu, much of black art in film, TV and theater, is because Ruth Souza, who died on Sunday (28) at 98, existed. “She came before all of us. She came before Chica Xavier, she came before Léa Garcia, before Zezé Motta. She came before many before us,” said actress Taís Araujo on her Instagram.
In black dramaturgy Dona (lady) Ruth invented the wheel, being the first black woman at various times in her professional life, such as her performing at the Municipal Theater of Rio de Janeiro, in 1945, in the show Emperor Jones, by the American playwright Eugene O’Neill (1888-1953). As Taís Araújo well described on her Instagram
The actress has always said in her interviews that playing writer Carolina de Jesus was her favorite work. “I even forgot who I was,” the actress illustrated.
Ruth de Souza even gave literacy classes to poor people who wanted to become actors but could not read.
Farewells and tributes
Dona Ruth was unanimous within the artistic class. At this year’s carnival, she was honored by the Santa Cruz samba school at the Rio Carnival Series A parade.
“Ruth de Souza was the first black actress to build a career in Brazilian theater, cinema and television. She moved on to another plan today, at 98, and leaves a real legacy. Go in peace, Miss Ruth,” said screenwriter Walcyr Carrasco.
“The passage of Grande Dama (Great Lady) Ruth de Souza leaves us with an immense sense of loss for all that she was and represents. gratitude for all the history and legacy she left. Viva Dona Ruth de Souza!!”. These are the words of actress Maria Gal, of the As Aventuras de Poliana novela and who is also an activist in the inclusion of black people in the audiovisual market.
“And the heavens receive our GREAT RUTH OF SOUZA today. INSPIRATION QUEEN GREAT LADY OF THE ARTS. 98 Years of great achievements. Immense GRATITUDE for opening so many paths. We lost one of our great references of atrizes negras (black actresses) of Brazil. D. Ruth de Souza had a dream of being an actress since childhood when she heard “Não tem artista preto” (there are no black artists). At 98, she leaves us a great legacy. This woman who broke barriers and prejudices that unfortunately exist today. Immense GRATITUDE D. Ruth de Souza. You have departed but leave in our hearts the baton to move forward. Thank you, ETERNAL DAME, PIONEER, MAJESTY” – Actress Maria Gal (photo above with Ruth de Souza at left)
Black actors and actresses shared photos with Ruth de Souza, leaving exciting messages of farewell, not forgetting to extol the legacy of an actress who lived in a much more racist world than today but didn’t lose her elegance, willingness to work and to do a job based on black excellence.
“Mother Ruth, I went looking for a picture of us to publish on this, such a sad day, and behold we always met each other like this, smiling and offering affection to each other. I’m very confused with this moment, I lack words to thank you for everything you offered me, teaching, love at each meeting but especially for choosing me as one of your children. The family you formed will continue. We will keep on in your honor. I love you deeply.” – Lázaro Ramos (above photo with De Souza at right)
“The queen went to rest. Thank you Dona Ruth de Souza. Gratitude for everything you did. #arte #atriznegra (black actress)#” – Actor Érico Brás (post above at left)
“Ruth de Souza, Queen … today and always. Thank you for your life. Thank you for opening the way, for the teachings …Great learnings!🙏🏾 ♥ ️Ruth de Souza departed at the age of 98 this Sunday morning (7/28/2019). May she rest in peace. Your great legacy will stay alive! * From a young age I had the dream of working with Ruth de Souza and Grande Othelo. Artistically I realized this dream with Ruth de Souza, thanks to @gloriafperez and @jaymemonjardim, in the novela (soap opera) O Clone when we played mother (Dona Mocinha) and daughter (Deusa). It will be possible to check out (soon) her last film work, in which she co-stars – at 98 – with Queen Zezé Motta. * “Ruth de Souza constructed a beautiful and successful career in #teatro (theater), #cinema and # televisão, having pioneered all these artistic fields in Brazil. The #atriz (actress) participated in the Black Experimental Theater – TEN, the company responsible for the formation of the first generation of black actors in the country. TEN was created with the aim of valuing #culture and Afro-Brazilian identity, as well as creating new spaces for action, launching several names in the #dramaturgy of the country, including Ruth de Souza.”
“TEN and Ruth de Souza’s debut play was Eugene O’Neill’s Emperor Jones, assembled on May 8, 1945. The play was staged at the Municipal Theater of Rio de Janeiro and Ruth de Souza became the first black actress to perform on this stage. In the cinema, for her impeccable performance in the #film “Sinhá Moça” (1953), she was nominated for the Copa Volpi Award for best actress at the Venice Film Festival. Thus, she became the first Brazilian actress to have competed in an international film awards. “#Ruthdesouza #oclone #elclon #adrianalessaoficial #arte #atriznatrra #actresses #blackactresses” – Actress Adriana Lessa (above photo, at left)
“I love you for eternity. Thank you for the profound encounters and legacy left to the art of Brazil. ✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨✨sankofa.” – Actor Fabrício Boliveira in post above at left
“She came before all of us. She came before Chica Xavier, she came before Lea Garcia, before Zezé Motta. She came before many before us. Always with a sweeping talent, a professionalism to stand out, a charm and a respect for the profession, when this profession was not respected, when actresses were not respected or admired. She opened all the doors, she opened those doors and today Maria Ceiça, Zezé Barbosa, Isabel Filladis, Olivia Araujo, Nara Couto, Aline Dias, Elisa Lucinda, Grace Passô, Ana Carbatti, Camila Pitanga, Roberta Rodrigues, Cinta Rosa, Vaneza Oliveira Adriana Lessa, Dhu Moraes, Heslaine Vieira, Marine Priscilla,Dejesus, Flavia Souza, Jessica Ellen, Luana Xavier, Protasio Cocoa, Sheron Menezes, Indira Nascimento, Thalma de Freitas, Dani Ornelas, Jeniffer Dias, Tati Tiburcio, Erika Januza, Mariana Nunes, Sylvia Nazareth, Larissa Noel, Thainá Duarte, Marcela Gobati, Fernanda Jacob, Cris Vianna, Jorge Heloisa, Jeniffer Nascimento, Juliana Alves, Mariana Dandara, Lucy Ramos, Maria Gal, Lidi Lisboa, Larissa Luz, Kesia Estácio, Adriana Alves, Luana Xavier (and so many other sisters I haven’t mentioned) and I are here thanks to her and her legacy. Thank you, Dona Ruth, thank you for all the tenacity, all the commitment, all the talent, all the courage, all the humanity, all the perseverance. Thank you for your existence. And I take the liberty of thanking you and all the women in this country, even those who are unaware of your importance. I love you, we love you, we salute you, we celebrate you. We will continue your teachings and honor your legacy. Always.” – Actress Taís Araújo in post above at right
“Today we lost a great feminine force, the great lady Ruth de Souza, the first black actress to construct a career on Brazilian television. She opened up paths, faced challenges and left a great legacy for us. Thank You for so much. Rest in peace warrior. Very heartfelt with this news.” – Actress Lucy Ramos
Emotion marks farewell to Ruth de Souza, in Rio
Wake started in the morning at the Rio de Janeiro Municipal Theater
By Akemi Nitahara
With a lot of emotion and tributes, the body of actress Ruth de Souza was displayed this morning (29) at the Municipal Theater of Rio de Janeiro, located in Cinelândia, downtown. Called the first black lady of Brazilian theater, Ruth died Sunday, at 98, at the Copa D’Or Hospital, in Copacabana, southern Rio de Janeiro, where she was hospitalized at the Intensive Care Center since last Monday (22) to treat pneumonia.
Ruth’s 94-year-old sister Maria Pinto de Souza didn’t stop her tears as she talked to the press. “I have no words. I lost a friend, I lost a sister, I lost half my life.”
The actress’s niece, Gloria Maria de Souza Bastos pointed out that despite having no children, Ruth was the family matriarch.
“It was 98 very well lived years, she certainly realized all the dreams she had for herself and her family. She has always preserved us a lot, was always been present at all times, always helped us a lot. She was a matriarchess of the family. ”
Actor Tony Tornado recalled that he played Ruth’s son in the 1986 novela Sinhá Moça, in which she made a cameo. For Tornado, the actress was a diva and her departure “weakens the battalion” of atores negros brasileiros (black Brazilian actors), a path she helped open for others to follow.
“It weakens our roots a lot, our existence. But we will continue this fight. We know it’s hard, very hard, but, as she said, the fight goes on and the victory is certain. She was a reference for all of us. Incidentally, the precursor situation is always very difficult, because nobody had ever done anything before, she was the first. She is the reason this is happening to us, to the race, to our profession, especially.”
The journalist and writer Susana Maria Fernandes highlights that Ruth de Souza is an icon for the black Brazilian movement. “She is an example for us, because when she was at her peak, there was racism in Brazil and it was very difficult. And today there is racism in Brazil and it is difficult. So, Ruth de Souza is an example that we cannot weaken because of racism or other things. We have to have strength and the strength she had is for us.”
For actress Nathalia Timberg, Ruth de Souza was instrumental in the role of building a place in Brazilian performing arts for the black actor.
“I’ve known Ruth since 1948, I was in the university theater and she was being the soul of the Black Experimental Theater, along with Abdias do Nascimento. That was when they began to struggle to bring the black actor in Brazil to the position he is entitled to for who he is. Not for the ethnicity itself, but for the great talent he has and how much he has to contribute in shaping our culture.”
At noon, a mass was celebrated in the Theater’s hall, which closed around 12.30 pm with much applause in honor of Ruth. The funeral will be at 4:30 pm at the Cemitério da Penitência in Caju, in a ceremony closed to the family.