‘You want to be a singer or actress? But with that hair?’ – TV host/owner comment provokes controversy

Actress Júlia Oliver, left, and Silvio Santos, TV station owner and host
Actress Júlia Oliver, left, and Silvio Santos, TV station owner and host

Note from BW of Brazil: Hmmm, now where have we heard this type of comment before? First, a little background. Silvio Santos (real name Senor Abravanel, born December 12, 1930), is a Brazilian a popular TV show host and entrepreneur. He is the owner of Grupo Silvio Santos, whose holdings include SBT, the third largest television network in the country. Estimates show that his net worth is $6.3 billion and a Forbes magazine article opined that no one is more famous than Santos in Brazil (Source). Júlia Oliver is an 11-year old actress and singer and is featured on the SBT TV novela Chiquititas. The two were among many others appearing on the station’s telethon to raise money for the treatment and rehabilitation of patients and disabled children. 

Silvio Santos is criticized for alleged racist comment on the Telethon

By Lucas Medeiros

Actress of Julia Oliver of the TV novela 'Chiquititas'
Actress of Julia Oliver of the TV novela ‘Chiquititas’

As in all other editions, each of Silvio Santos’s comments on Telethon, on SBT-TV is a cause of many memes, jokes and comments on the Internet, one of the most talked about topics on Twitter. But on yesterday’s (8) program, one of his declarations divided opinions on social networks.

A portion of the internet used reacted negatively to the comment in which Silvio was talking about the hair of a black actress from the novela Chiquititas. Julia Oliver, who plays Pata in the series, was asked what she would like to be when she grew up. This question was asked to all the children on the stage.

Oliver, center, participated in SBT-TV's telethon
Oliver, center, participated in SBT-TV’s telethon

“And what do you want to be?” asked Silvio. “I want to be either an actress or singer,” Julia replied. “But with that hair?” responded the owner of SBT, Brazil’s third largest television network. “How so?” responded the girl, surprised. He then laughed and asked the same question to another actress. However, this statement created a buzz.

Note from BW of Brazil: To be sure, for those of you who follow this blog’s reports, Santos’s comments are nothing shocking or surprising. Hair textures connected to persons of African ancestry have long been one of the most consistent sources of racist and derogatory comments that devalue anyone who falls short of Brazil’s ultra Eurocentric standard of beauty. It’s also shameful that a man as rich and powerful as the 83-year old Santos would disrespect a child and one of his employees on national TV. 

In reference to the opening question of this post, this incident is somewhat similar to Globo TV host Faustão’s derogatory comment about dancer Arielle Macedo back in April. The host said that Macedo’s hair looked like a “witch’s broom”. Faustão denied that his comment was racist. In the Santos case, some viewers also defended his comments as “just a joke”. But, again, with Brazil’s long history of anti-black sentiments, such a comment can never be interpreted as “just a joke.” It is symptomatic of deeply-rooted views about characteristics of African ancestry. You don’t believe it? Feel free to peruse this blogs archives or simply stay tuned; it won’t be long before another incident exposing Brazil’s race problem makes the headlines again. 

Source: O TV Foco

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!!…Just…WOW! THIS is why so many people here do not believe racism exists! It’s because,for the most part, many of them fail to understand that it goes far beyond calling someone “neginha” or “preta”! And it kills me that he would say such a humiliating thing to this beautiful girl on national television!!!! WHAT??!! I am just happy that Black people here are rising up and putting these stupid people on BLAST! I hope this child will find her way to this blog and see that she has a lot of support!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.