Yesterday morning, long time actress Neusa Borges, 70, was taken to Barra D’Or Hospital, on the west side of Rio de Janeiro where he is hospitalized after having suffered a stroke. The actress is said to be in stable condition, lucid and doing well. Borges currently plays the role of Maria in the Globo TV Network soap opera A vida da gente (Our Lives).
Borges is one of the great black icons of Brazilian drama. Before becoming an actress, she was also a nightclub singer in São Paulo. She starred in a number of soap operas over the course of a 57 year career, including roles on top Brazilian television networks including TV Record and the defunct TV Tupi and Globo. Since 1972, Borges has appeared in 30 soap operas and is remembered for roles in such soap operas as Escrava Isaura (1975), Dancin’ Days(1978), A Indomada (1997) and O Clone (2001). She has also won a number of awards in film festivals over the years including Best Supporting Actress awards in 1992, 1997 and 2005. Borges has also appeared in a number of Brazilian films including A Carne (1975), A Deusa Negra (1978), Uma Vida em Segredo (2001) and 2006’s Polaróides Urbanas.
In July of 2011, Borges received the Troféu Pérolas Negras Benedita da Silva (Benedita da Silva Black Pearls Award) in the city of Camaçari, Bahia. The award, named after the famous politician, was given in honor of black women that have fought in the trenches against racial prejudice is their select fields. In an interview conceded by Borges in August of 2011, she spoke on the topic of prejudice in Brazil:
“Unfortunately, blacks suffer a lot of prejudice in Brazil. We are always in second place. I think that blacks should fight to get more space. Blacks are not valued. Just to have an idea, of 80 actors that are selected to work in a soap opera, only one is black, and most of the time, the role destined to this actor doesn’t have major emphasis. This also happens in fashion, that it, for each ten models walking the catwalk, only one is black.”*
In November of 2011, during Brazil’s annual Month of Black Consciousness, she was honored at the Legislative Assembly of the northeastern state of Bahia in a ceremony attended by various activists, friends and entertainers. In homage to the long-time actress, politician Bira Corôa presented Borges with an award of Bahian citizenship. Although Borges was born in the southern city of Florianópolis and grew up in São Paulo, she would eventually move to the northeastern state of Bahia. Handing the award to Borgess, Corôa said the following:
“November 20th and the struggle of the black Bahian has gained more force honoring an actress that shines as a militant for racial equality in Brazil, denouncing the discrimination suffered by black actresses on Brazilian television….She fights for the rights of our race. And in this moment that we celebrate the International Year of the African Descendant it is more than deserved this honor to this woman that represents a generation of those that fought each day for a place in society.”
“All these years in Bahia fighting for the people of my race, taking the name of Bahia to other states…It’s been more than 30 years living in this land that I love and it is only now that I receive this honor after years of suffering but everything has its due time.”
*- In reality, the existence of black models in Brazil’s major fashion shows is much worse than this. In 2010 edition of the São Paulo Fashion Week, for instance, only 8 of 344 models on the runway were of African descent. The scarcity of the black model in Brazil has been a subject of protest and discussion for several years with many activists of the Movimento Negro demanding quotas to increase the visibility of black models.
Source: Black Women of Brazil
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