Note from BW of Brazil: Incredible! It’s been nine years! It’s really hard to believe that the film and mini-series Antônia came out back in 2006, early a decade ago. A write up on the film and series has been a long-time coming and we hope to one day release an article about this rare slice of black culture featuring black women that garnered major media exposure. We’ve actually featured a few articles on two of the other women that were featured in the film and series, rapper/singer Negra Li and singer/actress Leilah Moreno. Today, we bring you story of a third woman featured in the quartet and how she’s dealing with the topsy, turvy world of show business. Like two of the Globeleza women who went through bouts of depression after the lights, camera and fame disappeared, Jacqueline Simão’s sweet, but bitter experience with the realities of the entertainment world almost brought her down for good. The story ends on happy, if not an inspirational note, that is yet another inside look into being a black woman in Brazil.
She starred in a Globo TV series: “My 15 minutes of fame almost destroyed me”
Fame is a cruel lover. In one moment, Jacqueline Simão was a Globo TV actress. Suddenly, no one remembered her anymore….
By Caroline Cabral
I’ve carried for life the certainty that I was born to be somebody. At 20 I was paid to sing in a rap festival and realized it was not just me who liked my voice. This is how Quelynah was born, ready for success. This was how others in the community where I was born, (the São Paulo neighborhood of) Heliópolis, always believed in my potential. What I didn’t know is that fame is a cruel lover. If in one moment you’re in front of cameras and blowing up on the radio, in the next you can be forgotten. That’s what happened to me. I was selected for one of the main roles of the film Antônia, in 2006, that rocked so much that it became a TV series. I starred in the TV version and, for a few months, I was a Globo TV actress. Do you want more or is this OK? But, contrary to what I thought, that was not enough to boost my career. And after being at the top and tasting 15 minutes of fame, I went off the deep end with depression. I picked myself back up, but before that I had to learn some important things …
I recorded at Globo TV and thought that my life had been won
All the events of my life have led me to believe that fame was within my hand’s reach. No one denies that I am good singer and I have charisma. At age 20, I became a background vocalist of Alexandre Pires. In 2002, I participated in the SBT TV program Popstar and almost won. It was my highlight on this show that put me on the radar of a director, who called me to participate in an audition test for Antônia in 2006.
Things happened naturally, without my having to run after them too much. And sometimes it’s like that in this world of TV, but I was not used to it. I thought it was enough to be in a showcase for agents and producers to come after me. I was so focused on gaining visibility that I didn’t pay attention to purse that they paid me: R$7,000 for a year. It was hard work. If there was no recording there was interpretation class, text essays and so on. Quelynah would shine a lot!
Look, I shined. The film was so successful that Globo TV turned the script into a series. The purse increased: R$21,000 for four months of filming. Oh yes! I moved to downtown São Paulo to take it in stride, feeling that I was moving up life. At that time, I met (singer/rapper) Negra Li, (singer) Sandra de Sá, the boys of the (Hip Hop) band Racionais MCs, with determination! … My music was played on communities radios throughout Brazil, magazines and newspapers invited me to be interviewed and people knew me in the street. “From now on I’m only moving up,” I thought.
After the show, they put me in the fridge…
I don’t know if I made a mistake. Perhaps my only sin was having too much expectation. I just know that things didn’t go as I expected. Once the recordings ended, I found myself in the refrigerator. I became a guest singer for Racionais MCs, but after that nobody came looking for me. I made contact with some people I met on the set and asked for recommendations, but they said they “would see” and never returned. I came to ask for a famous person to take my CD to her record label, but she refused. And I thought we were friends … I don’t understand how, after appearing on the largest showcase of Brazil, Rede Globo, I had been discarded like that. What a disappointment.
Depressed and alone, I realized that talent alone is not enough
A year later, I ran out of money and went back to my mother’s house in the community. For four months, I worked as telemarketing attendant earning R$500 (1) per month. But that was short of my talent, so I couldn’t take it. But the reality is that they did not hire me even as a kitchen helper.
I became increasingly discouraged. I stopped making myself up and fixing my hair. I woke up, looked at Facebook, ate and went back to sleep. I cried every day. No one came to me to see how I was or if I needed help. I decreed the end of Quelynah. This went on for months until my mother thought I was depressed and took me to a doctor. She was right. Then I started taking prescriptions. I thought a lot at that stage and, as my mood improved, my perspective matured. Yes, I had fallen into a pothole in life, but that was not the end. I understand that we can’t expect people to look for us and can’t count on only a few contacts. I thought things were going to “happen” but it it’s us who create our opportunities. And we have to run after them all the time! Also you can’t call on any friend. This word is reserved for the few. And talent is essential, but not enough. Success calls for sweat.
Antônia film trailer
I returned to singing and recorded a CD. I did everything with force!
It took time to drive out the depression, but I came back. And I resumed really low. I put on shows and sang where I could. I’ve seen that the life of an artist is nothing easy and still more for a black woman from the periphery. So instead of waiting for someone to discover me, I put some money together to record a CD. I financed a studio and producer by myself, besides a thousand copies. I will sell them on the internet for R$5 each. Thanks to my album, I’ve done a show in São Paulo and will sing in Porto Alegre (state of Rio Grande do Sul). I’ve overcome difficulty, I lost my illusions and I used it for inspiration. I think people identify with me because I have dreams and faith, but I keep my feet on the ground. Quelynah is back and has a lot to talk about. Wait for me! – JAQUELINE SIMÃO, 33, singer, Heliópolis, São Paulo.
‘Killing Me Softly’ – from the film Antônia
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Antônia – Flow (Videoclipe Oficial)
Antônia, 2006 performance on Altas Horas late night variety show
Quelynah – “O Que Sou” video
Source: Sou Mais Eu
- The real/dollar exchange rate consistently changes and at this moment of economic crisis in Brazil, the dollar is worth about $3.75 reais. As such, R$500 in today’s exchange would be worth about US$133.