Beatriz Oliveira is the oral deaf actress who plays the character Pórcia in the soap opera “A Infância de Romeu e Julieta”, on SBT/Amazon. The character reads lips to understand what people say and communicates in Libras or in writing. Beatriz was diagnosed with otosclerosis at the age of 17, at which point she began to lose her hearing. From then on, she started using hearing aids and learning Libras to fit into the deaf community. The test for the role of Pórcia, for which Bia competed with actresses without hearing problems, was carried out with great confidence due to her very good knowledge of the universe that surrounds the character.
Pórcia lives with her father, Fausto (André Mattos), who depends on her to carry out household chores and share the bills. She is very intelligent, dreamy, careful and empathetic. Portia loves books and her favorite author is Jane Austen, so much so that one day she wants to live in England to see what the place she knows from the pages of books is like. Fausto is moody about life, tries to protect his daughter from everything, and ends up depriving her of being completely happy. Bassanio (Lucas Salles), Portia’s love interest, is the opposite of Faust. He is a good, loving and clumsy boy who encourages Portia to dream and make her dreams come true.
Beatriz faces daily challenges as a black actress, deaf and from the suburbs. She has been in the artistic world for 8 years and “The Childhood of Romeo and Juliet”, winner in the “Best Soap Opera” category at the 2023 Youth Awards, was her first chance to act in a soap opera.
During her school days, Bia was never a good student in Mathematics, Chemistry and similar subjects. In the subjects of Humanities, Portuguese, geography and history she performed well, but her talent was really in art and physical education classes. As she was raised by her mother, and is an only child on her mother’s side, from an early age she invented imaginary worlds, scenarios, dances, songs so as not to feel alone. Art was already crossing her path as she wanted to understand the fictional truth she saw on TV and experience the company of her creations. When she decided that this would really be her path, she looked for opportunities, took courses, and is always wanting to improve herself.
In mid-2011, he joined the amateur theater group ABC (Arte dos Bons Companheiros) with whom he performed shows in the eastern region of São Paulo. The group’s creative processes were collaborative, and everyone acted, directed and wrote in them. With the end of the group in 2015, she started taking dance classes at Fábrica de Cultura, and then joined Núcleo Luz, one of the best contemporary dance and classical ballet schools in São Paulo. At that time, Bia also took a chance on HDA’s intensive modeling course, aimed at black people. In mid-2020, he joined SP Escola de Teatro, where he graduated in 2023. The play, performed for graduation, “O Último Baile”, directed by Gabriel Duarte, resulted in the class being invited to perform at Espaço Parlapatões, on Fridays in September.
Always looking for space to work, Bia won, before her role in “The Childhood of Romeo and Juliet”, jobs in cinema, advertising and streaming platforms. In 2022, the actress was Rayane, one of the protagonists of the film “Escola de Quebrada”, a production by Kondzilla in partnership with Paramount, directed by Kaique Alves. He then starred in “Lapso”, a short film made in Belo Horizonte, directed by Carolina Cavalcanti, which received several awards such as, among others, Best Short Film by Canal Brasil, the 10+ favorites award, by the jury popular, at the 34th São Paulo International Festival – Curta Kinoforum, in 2023, in addition to Best film, at the National Competitive Exhibition, by the popular jury, at the 25th Kinoarte Festival. Bia also participated in the third season of the series União Básica, from Globo play and Universal TV, directed by Suzy Milstein, in the role of Gislaine, in which she starred alongside Caco Ciocler (Dr. Paulo), Ana Petta (Dr. Laura) and Teka Romualdo , in the role of his mother.
To build her character in “The Childhood of Romeo and Juliet”, Beatriz was inspired by Disney princesses: Belle, from “Beauty and the Beast”, passionate about books like Portia, and Princess Tiana, the first black princess of Disney animation, protagonist of the film “The Princess and the Frog”, because she is delicate, dedicated and hardworking like Portia. As an artist, Bia cites her inspirations: Lázaro Ramos, Dercy Gonçalves, Aílton Graça, Ruth de Souza, Viola Davis, Joaquin Phoenix, among many others.
Coincidentally, progressive hearing loss occurred when Beatriz made her life choice in art. She noticed her hearing loss when she was looking for a place to participate in the dance training course at Núcleo Luz. Bia passed the audition to study at the school just by following the vibration on the floor. To compensate for this lack of listening, it was necessary to sharpen other senses, to look more closely at oneself and around oneself. Entering the world of art boosted this search for greater sensitivity and, today, at 26 years old, the actress is exploring opportunities to impose herself in the market.
What was your transition like from the amateur theater group ABC to SP Escola de Teatro and how did these experiences impact your journey as an actress?
The transition took a long time to happen because, after leaving ABC, I spent a long time away from theater and art in general to dedicate myself to CLT work. So when I left the group, in mid-2015, I disconnected from the theater and only returned in 2020. It was like learning to speak again. I had background and past knowledge of the group, but an institution like SP is on another level. So it was like starting over from scratch, in a way, it was a shock, but a good shock, it really wakes you up.
Faced with daily challenges as a black, deaf actress from the periphery, how do you face and overcome barriers to secure a space in the artistic world?
I feel like sometimes, when it comes to barriers, I just try to do my best to somehow climb those barriers. And when I manage to break them, I dedicate myself a lot to what I set out to do because I know that I need to do it fifty times better than the other person for N reasons. So, dedicating myself, making an effort, is one of my tactics to face these barriers.
What inspired you to embrace an artistic career and how do you see the role of art in the representation and visibility of different groups in society?
Art was something that enchanted me since I was a child. If I say that there was an exact moment when I fell in love with acting, dancing, or singing, or that I saw something that inspired me and I decided it would be that, I’ll be lying, because I was just making my fantasies come true. child something real. Singing in the living room, playing pretend, and giving truth to everything I was doing in the game, from crying to smiling with happiness, or inventing choreographies, dance steps, it was just as if I was feeling everything in a true way and that filled me. Over time, I realized that I wanted to improve this and I pursued the courses, but I can’t say for sure if there was actually something that inspired me. I just wanted to do it. And regarding representation and visibility of groups in society, I believe that art has a basic, guiding role. When we talk about groups within society, we are talking about singularities, different people, and art allows different people from all over the world to be seen, heard and felt. And that is unique.
In any aspect, from painting to dance, being read, heard, felt, is an act of learning and that is a political act, learning. That’s why I believe that art is the fundamental basis.
Portia, her character in “The Childhood of Romeo and Juliet”, has an intimate relationship with books and aspires to discover England. How do you identify with this connection with literature and the search for new horizons?
I identify a lot. Firstly, because I love reading, just like Portia, and secondly, because being in a new and different place provides new experiences and I love that. It’s almost as if reading and going to a new place are the same thing, but reading is an immersive experience and going to a new place is an immersive 4D experience. I’m always very excited and understand how much Portia loves reading. As she cannot and does not have the means to leave one place to another, she ventures through books and just immersive life so that one day, perhaps, she can have the 4D experience and be able to touch everything she has read.
How did you prepare to play your character in “The Childhood of Romeo and Juliet”? What were the biggest challenges and learnings in this process?
I prepared myself through studying, reading, a Libras course, going to places and meeting deaf people like me, watching films and series that talk about deaf people like me, and slowly familiarizing myself. Because, despite being deaf, I didn’t recognize myself as that. When I started researching to play the character, despite already knowing Libras, I didn’t have any knowledge or background about the deaf community because I was working and studying, so I didn’t have time. I was aware of my hearing loss, but I didn’t identify as a deaf person. When I managed to meet people in the community, who became my friends, I started to have support in this process. From then on, I came to understand that I was a deaf person and accepted that identity for myself. So, I can say that, initially, it was difficult to find myself as a deaf person and access other deaf people to do this laboratory for Portia’s role.
What is your creative process like when building characters and what are your main sources of inspiration when building a new character?
When I receive a new character, I like to write about her qualities and defects, I like to think about what she listens to, how she dresses, behaves, how she walks, how she thinks, what she eats, what she she doesn’t like to eat, what her fears and security are, how she sees the world, what her goal is. If she has a big goal, what are they, and from there I bring it to life, I study it little by little… It’s almost like putting together a puzzle, little by little, I’ll make it happen. I am very much based on Stanislavski’s method. He is an inspiration when I create.
You mentioned inspirations such as Lázaro Ramos, Viola Davis and other figures. In what ways do these artists influence your approach to acting?
I have a lot of admiration for the work of these artists because it really shocks me how they manage to work the scenic truth so well. For example, Lázaro Ramos has such a physical presence in the scenes he sets out to do that it is impossible to watch any of his films and be able to take your eyes off. I feel like it’s such a meticulous creative work that no detail of expression, voice and body escapes his work. I’m a big fan of films that convey truth, love, passion, because I fall in love with them. And the work of all these actors I mentioned, as well as Lázaro Ramos, I want to know how to do like that one day! LOL.
In your opinion, how can the representation of deaf characters in the media impact the public’s perception of the deaf community and its issues?
I think it should have a very positive impact as it has done. Pórcia’s character is an example that people want to know more and more about the deaf community and learn Libras. And that’s great, in my point of view, because it breaks this barrier of excluding a group because another doesn’t know how to communicate with it. I hope to see more and more papers like this, and topics like this being covered, so that the listening public feels invited to learn more about our language and our community. A place for respectful communication is created.
In addition to acting, you have had experience in cinema, advertising and series. How do these different formats influence your approach to acting and character creation?
I think that in a way, working in advertising helped me lose my shame in front of the cameras, and cinema helped me feel free to experiment with my ideas for the character. In a way, I think that every work I do, whether in cinema, advertising or TV, teaches me a little something new here, and another there. So I can’t name it, but I feel as if all these formats are a big school in which I’m always learning something.
The hearing loss he faced coincided with his life choice in art. How has this journey of discovery and overcoming affected your approach to art and interpretation?
To be quite honest, this issue of hearing loss almost made me give up on art, which I had loved since I was little, but I thought that because I stopped hearing, I would no longer be able to dance, act or sing. However, it was completely the opposite and I only had this thought because I had no knowledge whatsoever about being a deaf person. When I finally understood that one thing had nothing to do with the other, and that in fact deafness would only enhance art in my life, I was able to forget the idea of giving up what I loved. When I say it enhanced, I mean that I was able to awaken other senses, such as the visual, which was incredible because I started to look at things more carefully and that for an artist is precious.
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