Though vastly underrepresented, these Afro-Brazilian journalists excel and bring a little diversity to Brazil’s airwaves

jornalistas negras

By Cuca Lazarotto *

They are journalists, communicators, opinion makers, teachers, singers and warriors. Black women! Getting there was not easy. And it’s really not for most of us, hosts and reporters. But the will and determination will take anyone anywhere. As Mick Jagger said: “You can always get what you want.” It’s just that you have to be very sure of what you want and truly want to dedicate yourself to study, seize opportunities and never lose focus. Objectives are specific and each one has its own. The cool thing is to see that these colleagues are there doing great on television.

Perhaps you are asking yourself: why is a blonde competitor here writing about these “new professionals” of television communication. Well, first because I was invited by the editor of this magazine, Fran Oliveira, to do this article. What a privilege! Second, exactly by being a colleague and being on TV for a longer time than they and, therefore, having the distancing that allows me to understand the way these excellent professionals stand out in the media today. When I started on TV in 1990, very few black women were active in Brazilian television news, if I’m not mistaken, only Glória Maria and Zileide Silva. Those who undoubtedly served as inspiration and are examples and references for our stars of this article: Anelis Assumpção, Joyce RibeiroLica Oliveira, Luciana Barreto, Maria Júlia Coutinho and Roberta Garcia. The trigger for this report was precisely the evolution and the occupation for new black professionals in the media. And since they occupy this space, we talked about it, about the reflection of this achievement in the black Brazilian community and also which path brought them this far, their ideals, and a little more…Again, for knowing very well what it is to be a host, give an interview and not always read exactly what I said, and also out of respect and admiration for them, it is from this point on that you will read literally what they feel, experienced and told me.

 “The appreciation of differences is making black and white Brazilians believe that ‘black is beautiful’ yes sir!” – Lica Oliveira

Maria Júlia Coutinho

Host of the newscast Cultura-Meio-Dia of TV Cultura. Her career began in the very Fundação Padre Anchieta (Padre Anchieta Foundation) where she began as an intern. She went through several positions in the department of journalism before becoming a reporter, a position he held for almost three years. The big break came in late 2005 when he presented the Jornal da Cultura (Journal of Culture) alongside Heródoto Barbeiro.


Roberta Garcia

She made her debut in the program Vitrine, encouraged by TV host and journalist, Maria Cristina Poli. She would later move on to ESPN Brazil, where she hosted a daily program, and a live program on aventure sports, Ação Compacto, and another weekly show, Super Ação. With ESPN’s decision to invest more in soccer, she left just the station. For the past few years she’s been a host on SporTV’s Zona de Impacto.


Joyce Ribeiro

She’s been on SBT TV since August of 2005, where she initially hosted the Jornal do SBT Manhã. She later moved on doing the meteorology segment, and becoming the official replacement of hosts Ana Paula Padrão and Hermano Henning. Her first opportunity was at Record TV as host of Fala Brasil and Record News, a journal made in Brazil and watched by Brazilian communities abroad. She currently hosts Jornal do SBT.


Anelis Assumpção

Host, singer, percussionist and admitted, “I never imagined that I would would work in Communications in my life.” Her next program was Sintonia Fina, a program that draws parallels between classical and popular music recorded in the largest music school in Latin America located in the city of Tatuí in São Paulo state on TV Cultura. In April of 2009 she hosted the reality show Ecoprático (TV Cultura) and in 2010, began hosting the Hip Hop program Manos e Minas with rapper Max B.O. also on the TV Cultura network. The format of Manos e Minas is somewhat reminiscent of the American BET cable TV network’s 106 & Park show.

Luciana Barreto

Anchor of the Edição Nacional, of TVE Brasil. She never imagined getting into video. In the reformulation the GNT channel, she was invited by director Inácio Coqueiro, to do audition for host. “Nobody believed it, not even me. But he did! In a few months I was invited to host BandNews and from there to Jornal da Band alongside Carlos Nascimento. Later, I got the invitation from TVE Brasil (and) here I am!”


Lica Oliveira

Journalist, actress and former volleyball player. She hosted Esporte Espectacular on the Globo TV network. “I have always admired the work of reporters and TV hosts, mainly in sports, that cover the volleyball championships and major events like the Olympics that, fortunately, I had the pleasure and honor to participate in. I played in two Olympics, in Los Angeles and in Seoul.”

They are not the only African descendants on the air in Brazilian television, there are many  others. But all agree that the black space of the media is still very small, but extremely important. According to Luciana, one need only consider the history of Brazil. “A little over 100 years we were in the kitchen and on the farm, uneducated and without prospects. Today, we go to universities, we are overcaming adversity and are conquering our place in the labor market. This is wonderful! I think if we still have few blacks in journalism it’s because we have too few in universities. It’s just a reflection.”

Joyce believes that “we have many reasons to celebrate, but it’s still not even close to the ideal. The fact that we are a little more represented on TV, makes the community believe that things can be changed (and) at this point, (that) helps a lot, but the reality of life is still very hard, uneven, exclusionary. In the world of the arts and sports, the acceptance of blacks is even greater. People still find strange the black presence in areas such as medicine, engineering, journalism, advertising (and) law.” Anelis believes that the issue is deeper. “It’s not just the media that the “occupation” must happen. There are many blacks (i.e. poor) out of school. How can you be good professional in any area if you’re outside of the system? Identification is very important for the self-esteem of the citizen! In a country where over 60% of the population is black, it doesn’t make sense to turn on the television and find that you are not part of this society.”

“We have many reasons to celebrate, but it’s still not even close to the ideal.” – Joyce Ribeiro


Zileide Silva – Reporter and International Correspondent for the Globo TV network

Raça Brasil – Did you dream of being a journalist?

Zileide Silva – No. I always liked to read and write. But I alsovery much liked Mathematics and Physics, it took me a while to decide. My first entrance exam was for Physics at PUC-SP (Pontifícia Universidade Católica de São Paulo). I was accepted and even started attend classes. But I soon saw that it was not my thing and opted for journalism.

Raça Brasil – How do you see the evolution and occupation of new black professionals in the media?

Zileide – It’s great. They are competent professionals, who are well prepared and are occupying this space thanks to competency.

Raça Brasil – Does this evolution changes anything in the day-to-day of blacks in society? What?

Zileide – I’ll respond by giving a testimony. In the Câmara (Brazil’s equivalent to the House of Representatives), when I meet black security guards, they always tell me that I, Heraldo Pereira, Dulcinéa Novaes, Abel Neto and other black colleagues are references for them that demand that their children study, to prepare themselves so that they can also occupy spaces like ours. It’s cool cool and it’s also a tremendous responsibility.

Raça Brasil – What was the most memorable moment of your career?

There are several, but undoubtedly, the coverage of the attacks on the Twin Towers in New York. It’s cliché to say this, but speaking about this, I was an eyewitness to a historical fact.

Raça Brasil – How do you feel, being cited as a reference and example of a professional and journalist?

Zileide – It is a tremendous responsibility, but also an incentive to always work well, trying to do the best.

Raça Brasil – What is your advice for newcomers?

Zileide – Don’t give up. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it. And always read a lot.

Raising Self-Esteem

Roberta reminds us that “competency has no color.” There are so few blacks on television, not because of a lack of vacancies, but for a lack of opportunity to study and influence, a consequence of a major flaw in our cultural heritage. Roberta told me that, once, meeting popular rapper Rappin’ Hood she heard a wonderful comment: ‘When Ação Compacto comes on, the favela (slum/shantytown) stops!’ This means that the more blacks appear, the more that one black boy who has no perspective and doesn’t see a role model, knows that he can also get there. We all need a personality that awakens our development.”

The presenter Lica Oliveira notes that “we are still few, but there are a few of us. Diversity in companies only brings benefits. Our country is colorful in the streets, but when socioeconomic levels go a little higher, this color range decreases. And TV as a company, a service provider and a carrier of important value in our society perceives the moment of change, the questions of this society and the yearning for identity. And because of this, it begins to invest in black professionals, contributing in this way to dilute the stigmatized that one grew up with, making the work of these good professionals visible,” she says agreeing that evolution really changes something on a day-to-day in the lives of blacks in Brazilian society. “Identification and alienation are awakened in those who watch in that first moment. However, before the huge black population of this country, I believe that identification overlaps the alienation. It’s giving us the opportunity to make many young people believe that it’s possible to for blacks to do television and whatever else he believes that he can do in our country besides improving self-esteem,” says Lica Oliveira.

Maria Julia agrees with colleagues and adds: “I believe that the evolution of the conquest of space for blacks in the media owes much to the pressure made by the movements in defense o the black community.” As for a reflection of her work on TV Cultura she exemplifies it with an interesting story. “The other day, an 8 year old black girl sent me a drawing titled “Garotas Estilo Maria Julia (Maria Julia Style Girls)”. She drew four girls with my biotype, using different styles of hair. This proves that we are raising the self-esteem of those who consider themselves black. They look to black professionals who occupy positions of prominence on television, or in other sectors, and think: I can too!”

Quotas in the universities

The good thing is knowing that they are examples for future generations and that this space is just beginning to grow. It’s like Roberta Garcia said. “Who were the black Brazilian journalists of yesterday? I don’t remember, I don’t have a reference. Nowadays, they’re on the air, on diverse regular and cable channels. This is great, and it makes me very optimistic about the next generations.” All of us were optimistic: The respect for differences, equality and gaining new and larger proportions without any political interference. Everyone knows that the issue of quotas in universities is controversial. And when talking about the issue with the respondents I realized that they all believe this is necessary, only for a period. Maria Julia believes in the power of the debates. “The important thing in the quota system or in the Statute of Racial Equality is the clash of ideas generated by the possibility of implementing these measures. I believe that this conflict will raise compromises that meet society in general. Unicamp (1), for example, adopted a different system of inclusion. There, the Affirmative Action and Social Inclusion Program provides a compensation of (additional) points in the final grade of the students and also benefits black and indigenous students.” My opinion goes against that of Roberta, the problem is the base of education, we have to improve the level of basic education for a better future. It’s no use in having quotas in the university and our children continue with this ‘no education’ that the country offers,” says Roberta.

Actually the issue is much more social than racial. “The issue is not about being black. It’s being poor!”, says Anelis. As I said at the beginning of this article, the important thing is believing in the dream and making it happen. And that’s what they did.

“We came to the university, we overcame adversity and are conquering our place in the labor market. This is wonderful!” – Luciana Barreto

Heraldo Pereira, Reporter and host on Globo television network

Raça Brasil- Being the first black host of the largest and most important news program in Brazil. What does this mean?

Heraldo Pereira – I am very proud of my profession as a reporter. I do it with determination and a lot of love in my job thinking, always, about the public that will get the message. Our challenge, of all of us I think, is seeking an accurate message, well-refined, true, that is pure information of quality. It’s as a reporter, and I’ve worked in television since 1980, that I was called to participate in the rotation of Jornal Nacional hosts on weekends, on (hosts) William Bonner’s and Fátima Bernardes’s off days. I am proud, in this way, to be able to work alongside more experienced friends of Brazilian television that, with each presentation, teach me so much. So we have a goal to do a job that is referenced by the quality, credibility, respect for our audience, regardless of the color of who makes or receives the news. We work for the Brazilian population that is multiple. And there is, I believe one of its greatest values. I’m glad to participate in the Globo team. This group of professionals is indeed a reference for new professionals that are coming to television, including, increasingly, to be commended, women and men of our black people as examples that are in this issue of Raça (magazine).

Raça Brasil – What advice would you give to anyone who is starting out?

Heraldo Pereira – Reading, tenacity, dedication. You have to prepare yourself every day, academic or informally, diligently engage (yourself). Refer yourself to the classic Brazilian writers, and since we are approaching approaching (the topic of) our negritude, never put aside Machado de Assis (2), ever, and all the material that we in the press produce on TV, on the radio, in the newspapers, magazines, etc.

Raça Brasil – How do you see the evolution and occupation by new black professionals in the media?

Heraldo Pereira – There is a growing number of blacks enrolled in communication courses. This is very good. We now have a bank of journalistic talent with good training. Hence for the labor market it’s automatic. This is good. And many people are still to come. One day, maybe we will not have to deal, with this theme in admiration. There will be so many black journalists.

Raça Brasil – Has this evolution changed anything in the day-to-day lives of blacks in society? What is the most memorable moment of your career?

Heraldo Pereira – Changes, yes. The more we are present in different positions of the society, of which we have so long been excluded, the bigger the occupation of excellence. Without this, a multiple country like Brazil, will not constitute itself as a nation. And without the nation all of us will lose. We can form a truly new society, otherwise it will be a disaster. For that to happen, we blacks have to be integrated into the various sectors of the country. It’s inevitable. No one will be able to stop this process. Even though some will try.

Raça Brasil – Did you dream of being a communicator? How do feel being cited as a reference and example of a professional and journalist?

Heraldo Pereira – I think so, since childhood. I’m from a town of communicators, Ribeirão Preto (state of São Paulo), where the radio was always very present. I have communication in my head.

Raça Brasil – At some point did you feel privileged because of your color?

Heraldo Pereira – I believe I’ve achieved my space thanks to my dedication and the work I have done since ‘80, when I went on television.

Raça Brasil – Was there ever any situation of prejudice?

Heraldo Pereira – Blacks are routinely faced with situations of prejudice in everyday life. Some don’t give it a thought. They say the problem it is the problem of whoever is prejudiced. Cool. Others are outraged. I’ve already felt outraged. I try more and more not to give it much thought. I also know that prejudiced people have to be with us in building the country we all want.

Raça Brasil – What was the most memorable moment of your career?

Heraldo Pereira – It was when I covered João Carlos de Oliveira’s (aka João do Pulo) (3) accident, in Campinas, São Paulo. He continues to be my idol. I miss João.’

Raça Brasil – Do you agree with the quotas reserved for blacks in universities, businesses and even in Hollywood?

Heraldo Pereira – I agree and now we need to create our own quota model, without imported fads that fit our educational reality.

Dreaming is necessary

Since she was a child, Maria Julia played (pretended) to host newscast, she wrote little reports in school or or presented schoolwork in the form of a news journal. Her first television experience was in her college TV lab. Making the first report for Edição Extra, she decided she would like to work with video. Roberta always wanted to do radio and so she started with Rádio Cultura. Once inside she ended up experimenting with television, by chance, just to prove to herself that TV was not what she wanted. There, she was bitten by the bug and got addicted.

Luciana remembers that as a child she said she would be a journalist and said she would work in Jornal do Brasil. Since the beginning she was headed for television and she decided not to fight it. Her first internship in TV was in Canal Futura and there and she devoted herself fully. “You know that, like every ‘minority’, blacks end up having to prove their talent and competence at work.” Her goal was to become “indispensable because I really needed the job very much.” After many battles and some achievements, there they are, on the air, reporting or hosting, and the pursuit of each one continues. A great motivating factor for Roberta is interaction. “I’m an opinion maker, and I have that responsibility I take very seriously the material that I produce. My ideal is always to instruct with respect and credibility.”

What motivates Joyce and Anelis is every day seeing a better result. Anelis seeks to present an investigative, interesting music program. Joyce wants to lead a respected telejornal. “Leading a journal is a union of the concepts that are learned over the years.” As for Luciana, the motivation is the social aspect. “It’s inevitable. I always wanted to be a journalist to disclose what good can be done in the world and for the world.” Her professional dream? “Knowing the right time to leave video and start writing.”

Luciana’s social concern is part of the day-to-day routine of a journalist and teacher. “Ten years ago I gave writing classes to students of Educafro (organization that offers pre-university preparation courses for black and poor students), a work that adds much to my life and, of obviously, also for them. In 1996 I was just like any of my students, a poor girl, who lived in a region that lacked everything and who dreamed of becoming a high level professional. Nowadays when my students see me they think ‘It’s possible. I’m going to make it.’ On the other hand, when I look at them I think: ‘Wow, how look how many obstacles I’ve overcome.’”

*Cuca Lazarotto is host of the TV Cultura program Metropolis

1.Universidade Estadual de Campinas (State University of Campinas) in Campinas, São Paulo

2. Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis (1839-1908), 19th/20th century novelist, poet, playwright, short story writer of African descent, considered the greatest writer of Brazilian literature.

3. João Carlos de Oliveira, also known as João do Pulo (1954–1999) was a Brazilian athlete who competed in the triple jump and the long jump. He won two Olympic bronze medals. In 1981, he was in a car accident near São Paulo in which he lost one leg.
Source: Raça Brasil

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

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