Happy Birthday, Ruth de Souza!
Today Google made a beautiful doodle to celebrate Brazilian actress Ruth de Souza, who is widely considered one of the first Black theatre actors in the history of Brazil. With performances in theatre, television, and film, Souza cleared the path for future Afro-Brazilian entertainers.
She is also called Ruth Pinto de Souza, born on May 12, 1921, in Rio De Janeiro. Ruth de Souza aspired to be an actor from a young age. As a teenager, she joined Rio’s Black Experimental Theater, a project founded in 1944 to fight against racial discrimination and open doors for Afro-Brazilian talent in the performing arts.
As a member of the Black Experimental Theater (Teatro Experimental do Negro, TEN), she is one of the first black actresses in dramatic theater in Brazil and one of the first to perform at the Teatro Municipal do Rio de Janeiro.
The Black Experimental Theater was created in 1944 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to combat racism and create opportunities for black talent in the theater. Along with Arinda Serafim, Ilena Teixeira, and other black women, Ruth participated in the premiere performance of TEN as a member of the chorus and later played the Native Woman, the only female character in Eugene O’Neill’s play The Emperor Jones.
Later Ruth de Souza was nominated in Venice Film Festival as Best Actress for her 1953 performance in “Sinhá Moça” (“The Landowner’s Daughter”)—making her the first Brazilian actress to receive an international award nomination.
In addition to the over 30 films, Ruth de Souza appeared in both at home and abroad, Souza had a prolific career in television, performing in over 20 soap operas. In 2004, the Gramado Film Festival, one of the largest cinema festivals in Brazil, awarded Best Actress to Souza for her role in the film of the same year: “Filhas Do Vento” (“Daughters of Wind”). Ruth de Souza died in Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro in July 2019 at the age of 98.
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