Note from BBT: You know, I always have to applaud Brazilians who manage to make it to the big time. I mean, as hard as it is to make it big in a country such as the United States, it is infinitely more difficult for persons who happened to be born in Latin America. Black Americans certainly know a little bit about what we call ‘the struggle’, but consider being black in Brazil.
While Brazil is considered the leader in Latin America, is the largest and most populous country and owner of the region’s top economy, there are numerous other areas that leave Brazil far behind in terms of being a global force along the lines of the US, England, France and Germany.
According to US News, Brazil ranks number 30 in the world in terms of best countries to raise children, it is number 36 in education, number 22 in terms of international influence, number 30 in terms of having a comfortable retirement and the 27th best place in which the start a business. And these rankings consider the country as a whole.
When we break things down by race, we see how much more difficult it is for black Brazilians to make it. According to a study of the Human Development Index in 2017, the HDI for black Brazilians in the year 2010 was where the white population was in the year 2000, in other words, being born black in Brazil automatically puts one 10 years behind. I’ve said this for years, in terms of opportunities for its black population, Brazil simply can’t compete with the United States, and considering the position of black Americans compared to white Americans, that’s saying something.
The world of fashion is yet another area where Brazil has long tried to keep its black population ‘in its place’. Although Brazil is known for having some of the most beautiful women on earth, if you were to analyze its fashion runways, a casual viewer may think they were in Denmark rather than a country that is reported to have one of the largest black populations in the Americas.
So then, why is this? Well, I know that, generally speaking, no one likes to hear discussions about the infamous ‘R’ word, but it’s been a long time open secret that Brazil has always favored white skin. This has been clear from the time it openly sought the gradual disappearance of the black phenotype through mixed marriages, the vast under-representation of Afro-Brazilians in the media, in the halls of power or even as head coaches of the nation’s top soccer teams.
A few years ago, numerous black models spoke out against the racism they experienced in Brazil’s fashion industry and before that, there was a controversial discussion about the necessity of implementing a system of quotas so that the nation’s top fashion shows, São Paulo Fashion Week and Fashion Rio, featured more black models amongst the ultra-European looks of the standard models. To be recognized, Afro-Brazilian models faced the exclusionary practices of not only its national fashion industry but also scouts and companies on the international level.
With such enormous odds, when someone from a Rio de Janeiro slum is able to attract attention from Brazil and then movers and shakers outside of the country, THAT is an accomplishment. This is precisely the case of model Juliana Nalú. First garnering attention from a fashion show put on by a slum-oriented NGO in Brazil, her star will only shine brighter as she is now collaborating with two of America’s most well-known personalities. Let’s learn a little more about Juliana.
Today’s story is courtesy of the Glamurama and Portal Rap Mais websites.
Juliana Nalú continues as one of the great Brazilian models abroad
Carioca model Juliana Nalú has everything in the United States. Last month, she starred in an international fashion show. After getting attention from Kanye West and Kim Kardashian, Juliana Nalú aims for higher heights: ‘Brazil needs black tops’.
Courtesy of Glamurama and Portal Rap Mais
“A friend says that my life has so many unbelievable stories that it would even make a movie,” says the top model Juliana Nalú as if the rapid rise in the fashion world, of some that left a community in Rio de Janeiro and today stars in a campaign for Kim Kardashian’s brand was not, in fact, worthy of cinema.
For the 24 year old Carioca, who dreamed of becoming a model since she was a child, the ascension is more the fulfillment of these goals. On the runway since she was 14, she got used to drawing attention wherever she went, but before cultivating friendships with celebrities like Lewis Hamilton and Diplo, and being part of the campaign for Skims, Kardashian’s underwear brand, she reports having suffered xenophobia and racism in the United States and England, where she lived before.
“It was all veiled, but I could tell they would do the makeup and hair of the white and blonde girls first, and in the last 5 minutes they would give me a little attention – in reality because they didn’t know how to fix my hair,” she told GLMRM.
“I work so that the new faces don’t suffer this anymore and so that the ‘black’ and curly hair is valued as the straight is.
Juliana’s reality has changed because she has already achieved a certain status in the profession, but she knows that young black and Brazilian women still face the same situations at the beginning of their international careers. “They even told me to reduce my hips, lose weight, but I don’t feel beautiful thinner,” she says.
Like every new face, Juliana cites Gisele Bündchen as a reference of a Brazilian who conquered her space and went beyond fashion, but she makes a reservation: “She opened several doors and put Brazilian models in the ranking, but she is white.
“We also have to have a wonderful black top model, after all, there are many more black people in Brazil,” she says, with the confidence of someone who wants to reach much higher flights than she has already conquered.
Party with Kanye
Living in Los Angeles for the past six years, Juliana started participating in campaigns for giants like Urban Outfitters and American Eagle. But it was a stroke of luck – or the fact of being in the right place at the right time – that made her receive an invitation from the creative director of Kim Kardashian’s brand to be one of the faces of the new campaign.
Some time ago, Juliana was at a party of another Kardashian, Kendall Jenner, when she was noticed by none other than Kanye West, owner of Yeezy and ex-husband of Kim, with whom she has four children.
“I was with a friend at a party that had Justin Bieber, Drake and other famous people, I went to the bathroom and when I came out, I saw that Kanye West was in the hallway looking at me and laughing. For a moment I didn’t understand if he was really looking at me or he had used something,” she recalls, modestly. “When I walked by, he complimented my outfit and asked his assistant to write down my number for future work.”
The campaign with Kanye has not yet taken off – perhaps because of the ups and downs in the rapper’s life recently, with his breakup with Kim and the mental health issues he is facing. But the two talked to each other eventually and Juliana believes that soon he will launch a new collection.
“I really came from the favela and I don’t get dazzled by these things, but I’m very happy with the opportunity that God gives me to reach such high places, you know?” she says.
‘Language of love’
Born and raised in the Complexo do Chapadão favela slum, in Rio de Janeiro, Juliana began to fulfill some of her childhood dreams when she won the CUFA – Solte seu Brilho, a contest held by Rede Globo in partnership with the Central Única das Favelas.
CUFA, mentioned above, means the Central Única das Favelas is a Brazilian non-governmental organization that was originally founded in 1999 by a group of young black men from the famed Cidade de Deus favela.
If you remember, Cidade de Deus is the same favela that was depicted in the 2002 blockbuster film of the same name released as in the United States. today, the NGO has locations in all Brazilian states and in 15 other countries around the world. the organization that promotes activities in the areas of education, leisure, sports, culture and citizenship, such as graffiti, DJing, break dancing, rapping, and other activities, audiovisual productions, street basketball, literature, and other social projects.
The organization also actively promotes, produces, distributes, and conveys hip hop culture through various publications, records, videos, radio programs, concerts, contests, music festivals, cinema, art workshops, exhibitions, debates, seminars, and other means. These are some of CUFA’s main forms of expression and serve as tools for social integration and inclusion.
From there to jobs in Spain, Greece and the UK was a short hop. With no opportunity to study English during her childhood and adolescence, she started modeling abroad without understanding a word of the language.
“I spent two weeks crying in my room because I didn’t speak English, but I realized I needed to get my head up and throw myself into it.”
It took her only a year and a half to learn good English on a daily basis, without classes. In the meantime, she became the inspiration for the lyrics to the song “Love Language” by Kehlani, a 2016 Grammy nominated artist for “Album of the Year”. The song, inspired by the Brazilian’s romance with Kehlani’s music producer, talks about a couple in love, and makes reference to the model’s Portuguese: “I want to be fluent in your language of love.”
The same girl
Even surrounded by international celebrities and full of stories, Juliana says she manages to be grateful for her achievements and stay true to her essence.
“Thank God, I am in a more comfortable position economically to help my family, this is my luxury,” says the model, who managed to move her family from the Complexo do Chapadão and pays for her mother’s school of psychology and her brother’s school of dentistry.
Before the new season of work, parties in LA and trips around the world, she is enjoying family and friends until the end of August in Rio de Janeiro. The city is where the model recharges her energy to continue opening doors for the next generations of black and Brazilian girls who dream of an international career in fashion.
The new advertisement for “Skims” – Kim Kardashian’s underwear brand. The photo shoot took place recently in Los Angeles, where the Brazilian has been based since 2016, after being discovered in a modeling contest. The images have just been released worldwide.
Now, Juliana Nalú has posted a photo of a print of Kanye West where she reveals that she is currently one of the new stars of the yzy shdz campaign. Through Twitter, a fan exalted the model.
“With insomnia looking Kanye West stories with Yeezy SHDZ photos and suddenly: JULIANA NALU. I looked several times until I believed it because it’s simply between Anna Wintour, Offset, Kim Kardashian and so on,” she said.
It’s worth remembering that this year Kanye West had already praised Juliana Nalu, during a party in Los Angeles. The “look of millions” worn by Nalú consisted of a black top and shorts, combined with leather boots up to the thighs and a coat, also of leather and fur, on top, without leaving the model’s flawless body hidden. “As I was leaving, his assistant came to me again, to make sure I had written down the correct number. Since then, we have been negotiating a partnership for work on Kanye’s fashion projects,” Juliana said at the time.
Considering Juliana’s busy schedule, she must also be commended for finding the time to earn a degree in theater arts. Today, 22, she continus to build brand in the US, where she has been featured in music videos, including “Heat”, by Chris Brown with whom she had a relationship. Before Brown, the model is also known to have been seeing Brazilian rapper L7nnon.
Note from BBT: With that said, congrats are in order to Juliana. The only thing I would warn about is being careful with the company she keeps. I’ve long believed that there was something going on with Kanye West and we all know the scandal that broke Kim Kardashian into the limelight. I think her ex, Ray J. has a few choice things to say about that. Not gonna go there…