The actress shows that she learned to make acarajé (fried bean fritters) (1) to play the confectioner Berenice in her latest novella, Lado a Lado and says that she has never suffered prejudice. She just felt sad as a child and didn’t have a “princess” of her color. “Girls today may not want to be princesses, but they wish to be (actress) Taís Araújo” she contends.
Handling pots filled with vatapá, caruru and dried shrimp – the fillings of acarajé, the traditional Bahian fried bean fritter – is already easy to Sheron Menezes behind the scenes of the novela Lado a Lado. The 28 years actress from the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul also is not shy when she needs to fry the Bahian delicacy in azeite de dendê (palm oil), in the role of the jealous Berenice, an acarajé vender from Favela of Providência on the 6 o’clock Globo TV novela. Sheron still serves acarajé to colleagues in between taping. The actress admits that she learned to like acarajé because of the novel. “I’m a gaúcha (2) who lives in Rio. There’s already has a whole cultural difference, but I love (northeastern state of) Bahia and many meals there.”
The intimacy of Sheron with cuisine is not the result of research, but a talent that she developed out of necessity. The actress has lived alone in Rio since age 18, when she played her first character, Júlia in the 2002 novela Esperança. “I can cook, I like to cook, but I don’t cook much because I don’t have time,” says Sheron, whose specialties are churrasco (Brazilian styled barbecue), ribs, carreteiro rice (3) and pasta.
The move from Porto Alegre to Rio was the fulfillment of a dream she had since he was 15. It wasn’t easy. After she finished her first contract, she had saved enough money to sustain herself until the next job, but ended up a victim of a scam. “I rented an apartment and later found out that he was a sham. I paid every month in advance to the guy and I had no money,” recalls the actress, who had to live six months in the house of a friend. After this dilemma, life in the Cidade Maravilhosa (Marvelous City) has lived up to expectations. “I love Rio. Sunday I have to walk on the beach with my dogs, otherwise it’s not Sunday.” Sheron is always seen riding a bicycle, practicing slackline (a sort of tightrope) in Ipanema, or walking along Arpoador beach with her boyfriend, businessman Saulo Bernard, 30, and with the dogs Batata Frida and Fidel Castrado. The actress also has a cat, Tripod, that only has three legs. With her life and career organized, Sheron is still not making plans for marriage, nor for children. “I’m an aunt. Manuela is 2 years old, lives in Porto Alegre (in Rio Grande do Sul), but he sticks to with me. This gives me a little desire of being a mother. The biological clock ticks and goes back to being quiet.”
Sense of humor
After 10 years of her career, Sheron today admits to being more comfortable with their work, in her eighth novela, after having experiences hits like Belíssima(2005), Duas Caras (2007) and Caras e Bocas (2009). From the time of high school, when she was a self-identified bookworm, maintained a high level of demand, but today she manages to relax a little more. “I see myself a lot. Before, I mixed the character and the actress. This is the second novela where I’ve managed to separate (the two). I watch and I say ‘Berenice is something else.’ I only see the character.” From Berenice, Sheron says she has an ironic way of looking at situations. The actress, in fact, believes that the sense of humor is not always well interpreted. “I think I have a way that annoys people, but it’s my way of being, of talking. I’m sincere, I say things, I don’t think much. It’s a defect and a quality.”
Her very sincere way also works as a way of protecting her shyness. Self-esteem was built under the watchful eye of her mother, Vera, a civil servant, 55, who prepared her to face life. At home, there was always had a great cheering section: her father, accountant Haroldo, 57, brothers Draiton, 23, and Drayson, 21, and younger sister, Schena, 12. Vera has always believed that her daughter would be an artist and enrolledher in a modeling course at age 14. “That’s when I let my hair down. Before, I wore braids. It seems that the hair gave me strength. I let it down and people started to notice me.”
Sheron, who attracts attention for her beauty and style, was Queen of the Drumbeat for the Portela Samba School for two years (2011 and 2012), in adolescence she only wore sweatpants. Today, she displays a sculptural body. “I am a completely active, they asked me if I worked out for Carnival, but I work out all year because I like it.” Routine activities include weight lifting, running, yoga, pilates, and kickboxing. With food Sheron is not rigorous. “I have a healthy life. There’s a lot of everything. I don’t diet.”
Sheron as a little girl
Owner of a typical Brazilian beauty, granddaughter of black, Indian and white, Sheron has never suffered racial prejudice. “I know, before me, Milton Gonçalves, Zeze Motta, Chica Xavier, Léa Garcia, Ruth de Souza fought and conquered the space so I can say that I don’t suffer prejudice.” Even so, she felt the racial difference as a child, because there was no princess in which she could see herself. “I could never be one (4). I heard ‘oh no, Snow White is not black. Cinderella is not black.’ The child speaks without prejudice.”
Aware that she could help other girls who experienced the same, Sheron then decided to develop the project called Princesa Violeta (Princess Violet) that is now featured in the nation’s schools. The book, created by Vera, tells the story of a young, black, female warrior and her father, but it doesn’t emphasize racial differences. The skin color is just a detail. “Now it’s even easier. Girls today may not want to be princesses, but they want to be Taís Araújo (4). Today, black children have people in which they can see themselves.”
1. Traditional cuisine most often associated with the northeastern state of Bahia. For more, see our article on baianas.
2. Gaúcha/Gaúcho is a person from the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul.
3. Traditional culinary dish of Rio Grande do Sul
4. Sheron’s comments echo that of several other black Brazilians who speak of the invisibility of black role models in a Brazilian media obsessed with whiteness. For examples, see here and here.
5. Taís Araújo is arguably Brazil’s most popular actress of African descent having conquested a number of firsts for black Brazilian actresses. BW of Brazil has featured her in a number of articles.