Posessing green eyes and of Dutch ancestry, actress Ildi Silva is clear on her identity: "I consider myself black, mulata. White, no"

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Ildi Silva is an actress that has appeared in a number of Brazil’s ever popular novelas.  Some of those novellas include Paraíso Tropical (2007), Poeira em Alto Mar (2008), Bela, a Feia (2009), Insensato Coração (2011) among others. In 2003, the actress was chosen one Brazil’s 25 sexiest women in the annual “Mais Sexy” issue of Istoé Gente magazine. The green-eyed beauty is a true cosmopolitan and refers to herself as a “bapaioca” as she has lived in three of Brazil’s most well-known cities and states: Salvador, Bahia, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. In Brazil, people from the northeastern state of Bahia are known as baianos, while people from the city of Rio are known as cariocas and persons from the city of São Paulo are called paulistas. Thus, combining the three terms, the actress came up with the term “bapaioca”.

Before appearing on television programs of all three of Brazil’s major television networks, Silva graced the catwalks of various fashion shows and then took theatre courses in both Brazil and the United States. The actress also revealed in an interview that movies are also a part of her plans. Speaking on the possibility of making movies, she said:

“The preparation for a film is very different from TV, where everything is more immediate. Last year I went to Los Angeles to take the course of interpretation of the Aaron Speiser, coach of Will Smith and Jennifer Aniston. I was supposed to stay a month, but I stayed for six. It was incredible…I made great contacts with people in the film there. But I had to return because of my visa and also because of the invitation to work in Record (TV channel). But my desire is to return to the U.S. as soon as possible.”

Below are a few more Q&A’s with the actress including her thoughts on love, marriage, sex and the DNA test she took with the BBC a few years ago.
You got married at 19, right? After separating, what lesson did you take from your life together?
We went to live together when I was 20. We experienced many things together. For a relationship to work you must learn to compromise and want to be together.

What’s the craziest thing you ever did to impress a guy?

Being far away, working in another state, and going back just to have lunch with the person.

What’s worth doing for love and what can be considered insensitive?
I think that in love there is no exact accurate measurement. What can be considered insensitive to me may not be for the other.

When is sex without love worth anything?
I think one of the best things in life is sex when it comes with love. Now, this depends on each person, right?

What do women prefer, thee romantic who has no bedroom skills or a guy with good bedroom skills but insensitive to female romanticism?
I think women prefer when you have good bedroom skills, but also be a romantic.

Six-pack abs or a man that sends flowers?
No doubt the man that sends flowers.

In school, did you mistreat the ugly girls?
No, never. In reality, to the contrary. Sometimes I would go out with my hair messed up with bruises on my arm and there were girls who wanted to beat me up just because I was beautiful.

How was the DNA test that the BBC did with you?
They were doing research in Brazil about mixture of races and detected the proportion of European, black and Amerindian in my blood. My paternal grandmother is black. My grandfather was white, with light eyes. My mother’s family descended from Dutch, but they also have mixtures.

You can separate certain parts? For example, the eyes come from the Dutch…
Wow, Brazilian, from Bahia… The hips, there’s no way. They’re thick, a black influence. The shape of my face is like my father, but the features are from my mother. I wonder how my children will come out.

According to the DNA tests done by BBC Brasil that featured several famous black Brazilians, results from Ildi’s test showed that she is more than 70% European. With black skin and green eyes, Ildi said she was happy to see an explanation of her origins, which she knew little about except that she had some Dutch descent. The actress says that the mixture sometimes confuses people who don’t know how to define her. “Even I don’t know how to define myself. I consider myself black, mulatto. White, no”, says Ildi.

Besides the 71.3% of European genes, the actress has 19.5% of African ancestry and 9.3% American Indian, as estimated by geneticist Sérgio Danilo Pena, professor of biochemistry at UFMG (Federal University of Minas Gerais) and director of the laboratory in Belo Horizonte, that did the examinations for the BBC Brazil.

“I knew that I had a Dutch side, but it is very mixed. My father is black, with eyes the color of honey. My mother is lighter”, says the actress whose full name is Ildimara da Silva e Silva. Although she is now a star of Brazilian soap operas, Ildi says he has had professional difficulties because of not being considered neither white nor black.

“I’ve had problems with that. People could never manage to consider me black. At the same time, there is a lot of work that I don’t do because I’m black”, said Ildi.

She recognizes that her unconventional beauty opens doors, but that on the other hand she doesn’t fit into any role. “Sometimes a character has to be common. They already told me that they wanted a more ‘normal’ more common person.”

According Ildi, being considered an exotic beauty “complicates” the story of the character. “Sometimes it’s easier to use a more obvious person.”

The geneticist Sérgio Pena also traced ancestors of maternal and paternal side of the actress, comparing it with the genetic sequences registered in international databases and in the university’s own laboratory.

By analyzing the mitochondrial DNA of Ildi, part of the DNA, except in cases of mutation, is passed from mother to children virtually unchanged, Pena identified the haplogroup (set of gene sequences) L3, seen in East Africa, especially in Kenya .

“Identical sequences to those of Ildi Silva were seen in the following populations: Tupuri (Cameroon) and Kikuyu (Kenya, East Africa),” said the geneticist in his report on the results of the actress.

In Brazil, Ildi’s haplogroup had only been observed in two isolated cases in the cities of Rio de Janeiro and Porto Alegre. Pena had to analyze the DNA of Ildi’s brother, Helilton da Silva e Silva, since only men have the Y chromosome used to trace paternal lineage. Helilton’s DNA analysis revealed the haplogroup I1a “typically European and more characteristic of the countries of the north” and found very often in France.

To Ildi, the European ancestry of her father’s was a surprise, since she only knew the origins of the Dutch on the maternal side. The geneticist Sérgio Pena explains, however, that tests of maternal and paternal ancestries show only the oldest ancestor on each side.

Hence the importance of making a genetic ancestry test that takes an “average” of DNA and estimates the percentage of African ancestry, European and Amerindian. Sergio Pena estimated a 2.5% margin of error of genetic ancestry testing.

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


  1. wow..interesting there was something similar done in the US and btw sorry to keep making comparisons between the US and Brazil, but I just see so many similarities when I went to Bahia, I just felt so at home because for once I was in a place where people looked similar to me and where I was "The norm," and the more I learn about Brazilian history, the more I recognized we have a lot of things in common and slavery is one of those things that links us together. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pxn-sf3d9PU

  2. 71.3%??? HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! what a joke. what an absolute joke. These White genetics tests are extremely misleading. I wonder how much of that 71% of so called European genes came from the Moors of Portugal and Spain or the Moors of Flanders. Beethoven’s mother was from this region and she was a black woman.


    There were tens of thousands of Moors and people of Moorish descent among the medieval Dutch. Black genes can be found in Europe especially in Southern Europe among Minoans and Carthaginian settlements and they will always be classified by these white geneticists as white.

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