Note from BW of Brazil: If you’ve ever been up at about 10:30 flipping through channels of Brazilian television, you would have come across the TV Cultura network and caught the beautiful smile and alluring presence of journalist Adriana Couto. As Brazilian TV prefers to keep black women “silent and in the kitchen”, and their presence on the tube being so small, it’s great to see Adriana bringing a variety of interesting topics, guests and musical artists on her show Metrópolis. There are many more women just like her all over Brazil who just need the opportunity to shine. So Brazil, what are you waiting on? Curious to see Adriana in action? Check the video immediately below and at the bottom of the page in a broadcast from November of 2013 featuring one of Brazil’s hottest rappers, Emicida. Learn a little about Adriana’s background and ascension in the world of media in the article below as well. The videos are in Portuguese, but don’t let that deter you from at least checking them out!
The color of culture
Journalist Adriana Couto, host of Metrópolis, shown at TV Cultura de São Paulo, she speaks of the importance of education and culture that her parents gave her and her career
By Amilton Pinheiro
Adriana Couto remembers clearly the voice of her mother, Conceição, when she said to her and her sisters: “My daughters, your place is not just here, it’s whereever you want it, wherever you see yourselves.” Born in Itaquera, a neighborhood on the outskirts of São Paulo with few opportunities for social advancement (we’re talking three decades ago), Adriana didn’t have an exact understanding of those words. “My world was Itaquera, my parents, the public school where I studied and my friends from there.”
In fact, mother Conceição referred to the educational development that her daughters received. While studying in a public school (at the time, much better than today), Adriana’s parents helped as much as possible in the education of their four daughters. “Today I understand that they broadened our possibilities to encourage us in studies and in the best cultural level. Many young people in the periphery don’t have this opportunity to see themselves in other places due to the lack of quality education in schools, a better cultural level and, sometimes, encouragement of their parents,” she explains.
A present father, a grounded mother
Despite little formal education (both had managed a third grade education), Adriana’s parents didn’t neglect one minute of their girls’ education. She says proudly that in only one generation the family experienced a “jump” in educational ascension and especially cultural, which was reflected in a higher socioeconomic status of their family. Much of this change Adriana attributes to her father’s struggle (a migrant from the state of Bahia to São Paulo with his father and nine brothers). Shortly thereafter, with the death of her grandfather, Adriana’s father had to work to ensure the sustenance of his brothers. “He started as an assistant bricklayer. As time went on he became a bricklayer and then a foreman. With perseverance and entrepreneurial spirit, my father opened a small construction company and with it, helped to educate us all. With the situation improving, he came to my mother, who was very down to earth, and wondered if it was not time to put all of us in a private school to study. She said no, because the situation could be reversed and then we would have to return to a public school, which could discourage us from wanting to continue studying. My mother, Conceição was always very wise,” says the journalist.
All these efforts largely paid off: all the couple’s daughters graduated from college. Adriana studied journalism at the Pontifícia Universidade Católica (PUC or Pontifical Catholic University), one of the most expensive colleges in São Paulo. The one who paid was her father! “I felt sorry for his effort to pay the tuition and I started selling health insurance plans to help him.” Adriana wanted to do radio and TV, and went to take the vestibular (college entrance exam) for the University of São Paulo (USP), but she didn’t pass. Approved at PUC/SP, she began to study journalism. “My passion was really radio and television. I enjoyed the technical part even more. I thought that I could be the program director, working behind the scenes. I didn’t think about being in front of the camera, I didn’t see myself in that role,” she recalls.
Before finishing the course, Adriana was interning at SESC Itaquera, near where she lived. There, helped with in house programming, concerts and lectures. The contact with the artistic and cultural world helped in her future decision to work in television. Already having graduated, she went to CBN radio, first as an intern, then as a production assistant. Because of these coincidences of life, Adriana worked with Heródoto Barbeiro, her great teacher, with whom she would share the bench of Jornal da Cultura (Journal of Culture) when she joined the station. “Heródoto Barbeiro is even today called professor at TV Cultura. He was for many people a teacher and a fine example within journalism, his ethical and professional posture, his competence and his patience.”
Some time later, she received an invitation from TV SESC/Senac. On television, she began to appear on camera, something she had never thought of doing. “People come into journalism school already thinking about being the host of a television program. But things don’t happen that way. An essay is newsroom is made up of 30 people, we say, and a maximum of two hosts. So it becomes difficult with everyone only wanting to be a host, the difficulties that they will have will be much bigger,” she warns. In her new job, Adriana was a reporter and later shared the stage of the program Trampolim with former presenter of Metrópolis, Cadão Volpado. Adriana only then realized that the camera liked her and vice versa.
About to go on vacation, she learned that Canal Futura was auditioning for television news. But she had a problem: the job was in Rio de Janeiro. Still, she tried. At first, the job had already been filled, however, she sent her tape for analysis. She was enjoying her well deserved vacation and thought no more about it, until a phone call changed her life. Adriana had been accepted at Canal Futura and urgently needed to go to Rio de Janeiro. With another opportunity in her hands she didn’t think twice, and in 15 days, was already living in the Cidade Maravilhosa (Marvelous City), and presenting the newscast of Canal Futura. With the new job, she had contact with subjects like sustainability, education (that she says she loves), culture and diversity.
Adriana was happy professionally, but the saudade (longing) of family and friends was great. And like anyone who has struggled a lot to have inevitable recognition (even if it takes a while), a new job opportunity came up, this time on TV Cultura of São Paulo. And Adriana went back “home”.
At the São Paulo station she’s already done a bit of everything: she was a reporter, host, reporter again and, with the departure of Cadão Volpato, Adriana won the prestigious place of host of the Metrópolis program that went on the air in April 1988 and has never left the grid of TV Cultura, despite having repeatedly changed the format and schedule. Currently, it comes on around ten -thirty (recorded two hours before going to air) and will undergo further formatting. “The new Metrópolis will bring new content from the programs Entrelinhas and Vitrine that ended. I will host it alongside Cunha Júnior (formerly of Vitrine) and Manuel da Costa Pinto (formerly of Entrelinhas). I think it will be really cool, because we have more complete insights into the culture,” explains Adriana Couto, enthusiastically.
At 38, the journalist is not the type of person who plans her professional life very much. She waits for opportunities to arise. Recently married to producer Zeca, of the Manos e Minas (Hip Hop oriented) program, aired on the same station, Adriana wants to again enjoy the experience of hosting the Metrópolis and “dating” the camera on stage. “I don’t know to this day if it she likes me, but I know we have a great relationship,” she jokes. In times of uncertainty and new challenges, she seeks the lap and the wise words of her mother, Conceição. “She is my safe haven. Whenever I’m sad or insecure about something, I seek her lap, her words and her advice,” says Adriana, with tears in her eyes.
Source: Raça Brasil, Soul Negra
Metrópolis featuring Adriana Couto, November 12, 2013 with rapper Emicida