Babu Santana celebrates role without stereotypes in soap opera: ‘I had not fully realized myself’


Nadine Nascimento

On air as Friar Severo in “Amor Perfeito”, Babu Santana, 43, says that playing a religious character with depth in Globo’s 6pm soap opera has been a high point in his career. “Soap opera was a segment in which I still hadn’t fully realized myself”, says the actor to F5. “I always played minor characters, with many stereotypes, but I accepted it because I had to pay the bills. Playing Severus has been great.”

The plot created by Duca Rachid and Júlio Fischer, freely inspired by “Marcelino Pão e Vinho”, has half of the cast made up of black actors. In addition to Babu, there are names like Diogo Almeida, Antônio Pitanga, Bukassa Kabengele, Isabel Fillardis, Juliana Alves and Tony Tornado. For the actor, this represents a breakthrough.

“Globo is not a station made by blacks for blacks”, he reflects. “But it is undergoing the action of time and renewing itself, realizing that it needs to do something about racism. You see a greater presence of black actors, presenters and anchors. It could be more forceful, but it is already a considerable change.”

This Monday (15), Babu will have even more reasons to celebrate. He will receive the Tiradentes Medal from the Legislative Assembly of Rio de Janeiro (Alerj). The nomination was made by state deputy Dani Monteiro (Psol) and was due to her artistic career and her work as director of the theater group Nós do Morro.

“It’s a very big emotion. I’ve been working at Nós do Morro since I was 17. I was a student, a teacher and now I’m a director. It’s a struggle, it feels like we’re drying ice, cleaning coal. Receiving an award like that, recognition of such an important parliamentarian, gives a gas, an oxygen”, he says.

Nós do Morro is a non-profit cultural association, which for more than 30 years has provided access to art and culture to children and adolescents who live in the Vidigal region (south zone of Rio de Janeiro), with training activities in the areas of theater and cinema. “It changed the reality of an entire community”, says the actor.

In Babu’s case, the move hasn’t exactly gone smoothly. He remembers that he was very criticized by his mother for leaving his job as a children’s party entertainer to dedicate himself to the theater. However, she later turned back. “One day, in one of the joint efforts we made to clean the theater, she made a nice pot of pasta and took it to us for lunch there. It was a great incentive”, she says. “And for me, this Tiradentes Medal is like this pot of food that my mother made.”

“For me, a black person, poor and peripheral, walking through the front door of Alerj to receive an honor, demonstrates that I manage to be a positive example within this violent society”, says the actor, aware that Rio de Janeiro is the deadliest state for young black men in the country. “I hope it helps the police and politicians, when they see a young black man on the street, to see the potential of being a great person in society.”


In addition to his performances in films such as “Tim Maia” and “Estômago”, Babu is also known for participating in BBB 20 (also on Globo), one of the highest rated editions of the program. The former BBB says he sees himself as a winner due to the repercussions of his trajectory in the house.

“When I entered the BBB, I was already 40 years old and it seemed that nothing else was going to happen in my life, that nothing else was going to work out”, he says. “It was there that I was able to see my reality and how happy I was. I was able to raise my children, do hard-hitting jobs, and I am proud of that.”

On the program, Babu was involved in some racial discussions, such as when, for example, he explained why he preferred to be called “black” instead of “negro”. Or when she explained the comb she used in her hair after participant Ivy Moraes made fun of the accessory.

“I had an uncle who was always a reference for me. He gave me this awareness that I was a black man”, he says. “He approached this subject in a very natural way and made me understand that I was not inferior because of it.”

For the future, in addition to the soap opera, Babu adds that he can also be seen in a new action work on Globoplay, with production by José Júnior. In it, the actor will live a character that can even be framed in some stereotypes, but which is also very complex. “For me, it’s no use making a doctor who will be an extra in the scene”, he points out.

Source: Folha

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