May 12, 1921-May 12,-2021 : Ruth de Souza’s 100th Birthday

Today’s Doodle celebrates 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.

Born on this day in 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.

Cast in 1945 as an Indigenous woman in the play “The Emperor Jones,” Souza became the first Black actor to grace the stage of Rio de Janeiro’s Municipal Theatre. She made her film debut in 1948, and not even a decade later, the Venice Film Festival nominated Souza for 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 she 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”).

Happy birthday, Ruth de Souza!

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