Actress Tóia Ferraz has always had a true fascination for telling good stories. She discovered acting while still in school, aged 14, and quickly fell in love with it. She studied architecture in college, but soon understood that her heart beat even on stage and film sets. She abandoned the drawing board and threw herself into the world of theater and audiovisual in her early twenties. Since then, he has made expressive works such as the series “Ilha de Ferro”, on TV Globo, he was in the film “Galeria Futuro”, by Afonso Poyart, and is part of the cast of the series “Olhar Indiscreto”, the most recent release of Netflix that comes leading the ranking of the most watched series in Brazil and in the world.
The great differential of the series that has just premiered is having a female team telling a story about female desire. The focus and perspective belong to women and that was precisely what attracted Tóia’s attention to the project.
Along her journey, the actress realized that she missed complex female roles and that, despite all the recent advances, her market was still dominated by men. 03 years ago she started writing her projects and putting in them the characters she wants to play. That’s what moves her every day to continue creating and fighting to get her stories off paper.
It all started in the pandemic where she created, scripted, directed and acted in a project for Instagram called “Da Janela”. In the webseries, she played a woman who observed and commented from her apartment window on the lives of her neighbors in the condominium. The project won the affection of the public and made Tóia realize that writing was also a passion. She decided to take on bigger challenges.
She is currently dedicated to 03 three main scripts: one of them is a TV series whose rights were bought by the production company Saigon Filme, in SP. The project already has a director (one of the main female directors in Brazil today) and talks about abuse in the professional environment with a focus on the female universe. The second is a miniseries directed by Vinícius Calderoni and Rafael Gomes, entered in a public notice whose forecast is for the result to come out in the first quarter of 2023. And the third is a series for streaming, its first comedy, which has the backdrop of the scenarios paradises of Bahia and talks about social differences in Brazil in an acidic and humorous way. It is under development. Check out the interview!
During your career, you participated in several successful productions such as “Ilha de Ferro”, you were in the film “Galeria Futuro” by Afonso Poyart and today, you are part of the cast of the series “Olhar Indiscreto”, one of the most recent releases on Netflix . How has this entry into the world of streaming been?
The arrival of streamings greatly increased the absorption capacity of professionals in the Brazilian audiovisual market and that is wonderful. At the beginning of my career as an actress, there was theater, cinema and a few television channels where I wanted to be. Nowadays the possibilities are endless, which is good. It also expanded the formats of national audiovisual products: in addition to soap operas and films, we started to make longer series and, fortunately, I think this is a path of no return. In contrast, movie theaters are increasingly empty. Now that the releases are almost simultaneous, there is no longer that thing of waiting for it to arrive on streaming, many people have preferred to watch movies at home. But I hope we can find that balance for theaters to stay alive. For me, there’s nothing more exciting than watching a movie on the big screen!
You mentioned missing complex female roles in the audiovisual market and decided to write your own projects. What was your inspiration for this? What was the moment or role that made you realize this lack and motivated you to create your own characters and stories?
There was no specific moment; it was more of a wake-up call to the fact that if I wanted to play the characters I dream of, at the pace I want, I had to create that opportunity. Because in this acting career, there is a part that you control which is: studying, reading a lot and always giving your best. The rest is not up to you. The things you want can happen at the pace you want, or they can take several years. My desire to write stemmed from the fact that I want to make an interesting, complex and layered protagonist tomorrow! lol And that’s more likely to come true soon if I roll up my sleeves and put in the work than if I wait for the phone to ring.
One of her three main scripts is currently about abuse in the professional environment, with a focus on the female universe. As an actress and screenwriter, what makes it special and meaningful to you and why did you decide to tackle this theme in your project?
This topic is urgent. Abuse in the professional environment happens in audiovisual and several other work environments. Only the context varies. I’ve always suffered various and multi-layered abuses in this profession, but there was one in particular that (almost) knocked me down and, at the time, even made me want to give up everything. But after I talked to other actresses, I understood that I was just one more and that several other colleagues in the profession had worse reports than mine. That’s when I decided to put the story on paper. If I couldn’t speak, I was clearly silenced on occasion by the professionals involved, so I would write. If I happen to have a daughter someday and she decides to be an actress, I’ll be able to tell her that I didn’t sit idly by.
How would you describe your comedy series, which takes place in the paradisiacal places of Bahia and addresses the social differences that exist in Brazil? What is your inspiration for telling this story and how do you hope it will make people reflect?
This theme has always crossed my mind, but the inspiration was a trip I took to Bahia in 2020. My experience at a Resort there was, to say the least, weird and, during a trail in Chapada Diamantina a few days later, I met a former resident of the village that is next to the hotel. She told me about her life story and about the community where she grew up, whose vast majority of residents work at the Resort. If I had already left the hotel wanting to write about that universe, listening to her, I was sure. It is important to say that we bring this social abyss that exists in Brazil, through an acidic and quite irreverent humor in the series. The idea is to talk about class tensions in a humorous and provocative way. Without a doubt, I think it is the best tool to provoke reflection.
Returning to “Olhar Indiscreto”, the plot revolves around Miranda, a hacker who ends up finding herself in a chase after spying on the life of Cléo, her neighbor who was a luxury escort. Nowadays, much is heard about internet security, so much so that we have had reports of numerous scams on the network for some time. Do you think that the approach promoted by the series, even if it is fiction, is important for the times we are living in?
I think that art has this role of entertaining, but it can always be accompanied by reflection on different themes. “Olhar Indiscreto” is no different. In an era where we put (almost) everything in our personal lives on digital, it is always important to remember the risks. In Miranda’s case, this issue is taken to the extreme and the character ends up having her life turned completely inside out. In our everyday lives, it is important to always remember to take basic precautions so as not to suffer the consequences of this excessive exposure.
Referring to the previous question, you had spoken about the perception that you missed more complex female roles in productions and that the industry was still dominated by men. Despite all these years that women have been fighting to get their spaces in the sun, do you believe that there is still much to be achieved, not only in your work environment, but in society in general?
Oh a lot. If we stop to think that women won the right to VOTE in 1932, everything looks very recent, right? So yes, there is still a lot to be conquered. Society and the thinking that governs us has been patriarchal for many, many generations. It’s still going to take some time to fully break this down. But I feel a very strong and beautiful movement in recent years. I have never felt so inspired by other women who have begun to occupy more and more spaces in all spheres: politics, culture, leadership positions in companies, etc. I also attribute part of these achievements to the emergence of social networks, which in a way facilitated and democratized access to information. The hashtag #metoo and the speed with which it spread is an example of this advance.
How do you see the future of the national audiovisual market and the presence of women in front of and behind the cameras?
I’m optimistic! I think we are walking slowly, but we are walking. The revolution takes place gradually – and it is a revolution. I had never been directed by a female director until “Olhar Indiscreto” and, in the series alone, there were three! Luciana Oliveira, Letícia Veiga and Fabrícia Zap. It was an experience completely different from anything I had ever lived. This example thing is very strong. Their presence there commanding the set tells me and everyone else that it is possible and already a reality. My boyfriend operates a camera rig called a “steadicam”. There are very few operators in Brazil and, until recently, all men. Nowadays, among the 20 he knows, he already has about three women. It is still very little, but it is an indication that little by little we are getting there.
During the COVID-19 pandemic that peaked in 2020 and 2021, social isolation consequently increased the public’s demand for entertainment, and with that came the birth of several projects, both live and web series. In her case, we had the launch of the series “From the Window”, which deals with the daily life of a woman who observed and commented on the life of her neighbors from her apartment window. In that case, do you believe that as painful as the situation in the world was, the pandemic ended up becoming fertile ground for new productions?
For some yes, for others no. I feel that there were some movements: those who had to go out to work and put food on the table because there was no other alternative, those who were withdrawn and did not have the strength or mental energy to create and produce and others who managed to survive precisely because they created and produced. I am definitely part of the third group. At the beginning, I was completely lost, without direction, without knowing how to occupy my head and my time. Then I understood that the only way would be to vent my thoughts in the form of stories and scenes. Hence the series “DA JANELA” was born. It was the way I found to navigate that scenario of so much instability and to continue doing what I believe is my purpose in life: telling stories.
As a screenwriter, what is your creative process? From idea conception to finalization of the project, could you tell us more about how you develop your stories and characters, what are your sources of inspiration, and how do you maintain consistency and coherence of the plot during the writing process?
It’s funny because I feel like it’s a two-way movement: I go after rich characters and curious universes but they also seem to reach me, if I remain attentive and available. It is very curious because, after I start writing, I feel that many times the story is “telling itself” to me and not the other way around. It’s pretty crazy. But of course, it turns and moves that thing where you spend a whole day looking at a blank page and don’t see anything. And these moments also need to be respected. I currently have a notebook where I write down everything: from book phrases to curious stories I hear from friends or acquaintances. We never know what a script can give.
How do you deftly balance humor and seriousness in addressing social difference in Brazil in your comedy series, and how do you seek to ensure that balance is maintained throughout all episodes of the series?
I think the most ingenious products are those that manage to provoke us, take us out of our comfort zone, without us realizing it – in a subtle way. Humor has that power. He makes us think about something, even if we are resistant. I usually say that this series is a combination of “White Lotus” with “Bacurau” and “Parasita”, which are products where I believe there is a very interesting mix of genres and a very strong critic. But this part of the criticism, in the case of White Lotus for example, is full of acidity that makes everything infinitely more attractive and interesting. Our series follows the same path. I say “wow” because this is a project I’m working on with another writer, which has been wonderful. Writing in more than one hand enriches the process as a whole and adds complexity to that universe. We’ve been working on this project for about a year and, with each episode, we’re careful to see if there’s harmony between the chapters and if the tone remains the same. It’s quite a challenge, but if there’s one thing that excites me, it’s a beautiful challenge!
Follow Tóia Ferraz on Instagram
*With Regina Soares