Actress Sheron Menezes visits Angola and participates in TV channel’s international programming event; is this the network’s way of hiding its lack of diversity?

Actress Sheron Menezzes with Angolan actress/reporter Érica Chissapa
Actress Sheron Menezzes (right) with Angolan actress/reporter Érica Chissapa

by Antonio Lucio

Brazilians uninformed about what happens in Angola, where I returned last week and like a parrot repeating in exhaustion that Brazil in the Homeland of National Angolan Hero, Agostinho Neto, is known only through its novelas, here’s some important information, the Brazilian television media is present in the African country through the programming of the stations of our country, that are shown there, like the TV Brasil, Globo, SBT, Band and Record stations, with very diverse programming.

Last week, the Globo International channel, held on Thursday (11) a party to celebrate the new grid programming of the station, where, with much joy and an exciting party, with 100 participants, where new surprises and novelties were presented and, with Angola’s Érica Chissapa, of the Revista África journal, as host of the event.

The Director of International Marketing at Globo, Alejandra Moreno and actress Sheron Menezes, who recently played the character Berenice in the novela Lado a Lado, were chosen by the station to present to the Angolan public all the latest news about the international channel that is broadcast daily in Angola.

“It is a night of celebration and joy in which we celebrate our content for 2013. Our content, produced in Brazil, comes to the four corners of the world through the Globo International channel. So this year, for the first time, Globo decided to extend the presentation of its news to Angola, Portugal and the United States and we are holding events simultaneously in these three territories.” It was with this affirmation that Alejandra Moreno, Marketing Director of Globo International, initiated the event “Vem Aí”.

The event gained even more excitement with the presence of Sheron Menezes, who spoke of her career and also her excitement of visiting Luanda and “the affection of these wonderful people, it’s funny to see so many similarities with Brazil, in terms of climate, food and of course, the names of streets and markets inspired by great successes of Globo, it’s charming.”

Note from BW of Brazil: This was not Menezes’ first contact with the African nation. In June of 2010, the actress was featured on the cover of an Angolan magazine. Here’s how it was reported by columnist Patrícia Kogut nearly three years ago:

Menezes on the cover of Angolan magazine "TV 24"
Menezes on the cover of Angolan magazine “TV 24”

One of the finalists on the “Dança dos famosos (Dance of the Famous)” of the Domingão do Faustão Sunday variety show, Sheron Menezes is a hit even in Angola, where she was featured on the cover of TV 24 magazine. The popularity of the actress is due to the screening of Caras & Bocas, the Walcyr Carrasco directed novela that aired recently in that country.

Sheron was taken aback to learn that she was on the cover of the publication. But she remembers that she was in Angola nearly two years ago when another novela in which she was featured, Duas Caras, was shown there and was surprised about the excitement of the local population.

“They actually follow the novelas in Angola and are very receptive to the Brazilians,” Sheron said.

Note from BW of Brazil: Hmmm….So, summing up the previous story, Globo TV hosted a party in Angola to pump its International TV programming in the nation that shares a history of Portuguese colonization and language with Brazil. The nation is also the origin of many Brazilians of African descent whose ancestors were sent to Brazil during the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade. According to historian Philip Curtin, Brazil received 1,134,600 slaves from Angola alone in the 18th century. For those who still don’t know, Brazil received around 40% of all African slaves sent to the Americas during the slave trade (in comparison to the 4% sent to the US). 

Is this an example of Brazil’s largest, most powerful TV network showing love for the African nation that provided the basis for a large percentage of the Brazilian population? In reality, it’s business as usual. We have already had a glimpse of the image that Globo TV broadcast of Brazil not only in Brazil, but in 130 more countries throughout the world through its international wing. Back in April of 2012, Mozambican novelist Paulina Chiziane spoke boldly about the images that Mozambique receives of Brazil. According to Chiziane, referring to Brazilian cultural products such as novelas (soap operas) transmitted, in her opinion, a false image of the country. Plainly put, Chiziane said, “For us, Mozambicans, Brazil’s image is that of a white country.”  She continued: “In soap operas, which are responsible for defining the image we have of Brazil, we only see blacks as porters or as domestic servants. At the top [of the social representation] are whites.”

One would assume that the same programming Globo TV broadcast in one African nation, Mozambique, is probably identical to that which is broadcast in another African nation, Angola. By the way, Mozambique was also colonized by the Portuguese and is a Portuguese-speaking nation. This writer can attest to the vastly white images that Globo’s international channel broadcasts in the US as well. With this in mind, Antonio Lucio, the writer of the first article of this post must not have been talking about racial diversity when he wrote about Brazilian TV’s “diverse programming”. For the overwhelming whiteness that Globo TV broadcasts on its network is a formula followed by its TV competitors, SBT, Record and others. Filmmaker Joel Zito Araújo has written extensively about the near invisibility of Brazilians of visible African ancestry, the stereotypes in which they are presented and has continuously used race as a backdrop in all of his work.

With this mind, how should one see the participation of Afro-Brazilian actress Sheron Menezes in this Globo network event in Angola? It looks  like a sham. This type of practice is pretty old. Organizations and companies have used this strategy for years: there is lack of diversity, i.e. black people, in the company but said company (Globo) wants to present a good image of itself in a country (Angola) where the overwhelming majority of the people are black. Solution: Summon one of the few black faces that has had a somewhat consistent presence on the network although overall the faces remain overwhelmingly white. 

This is an old strategy, and as Paulina Chiziane showed, people can see what’s really going on. Sending one black actress to Africa to represent a TV station that consistently presents its nation as an extension of Europe in the tropics does not cover up or address the continuous lack of  diversity on the network. Paulina Chiziane knows it. Joel Zito Araújo knows it. Spike Lee knows it. BW of Brazil knows it. And increasingly, more Brazilians know it. Solution? In the words of Spike Lee: Do the Right Thing!

Source: KogutAfricas, Revista de História

About Marques Travae 3747 Articles
Marques Travae. For more on the creator and editor of BLACK WOMEN OF BRAZIL, see the interview here.

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