Paulo Betti, 70, surprised by playing Coelho from The Masked Singer Brasil last Sunday (22). Unmasked first in the competition, he is delighted with the praise he received after singing on the Globo programme, as he appeared without getting involved in a more heated debate.
“Dada (Coelho, girlfriend) says the program is a positive agenda. I’m not in controversy,” he laughs.
This is because the actor does not omit when the subject is politics. Linked to the PT since the 80s, he participates in popular demonstrations and exposes what he thinks. After more than 50 years of career, he doesn’t want to shut up in the face of what he considers wrong and the lies advertised on social media.
It’s a fight against extreme stupidity.
This fight involves fake news on different topics: culture, education, racism and indigenous peoples. The son of a maid and a servant, he says he grew up in a mini-quilombo and was touched by these subjects. This is why he uses Instagram to deny that the Yanomami in a vulnerable state in Roraima are Venezuelans who have come to the country – fake news currently circulating in Bolsonarist groups.
“I’m 70 and I like to talk. I was involved in Lula’s campaign, I went to the four big events in Rio against the Bolsonaro government. You can’t stand idle in the face of tragedies. I could have triple the number of followers (on Instagram ) if you were neutral and posted softer stuff, but you can’t stop talking about what happens to the Yanomami Indians, for example.”
She even refutes fellow actresses like Regina Duarte and Cássia Kis, who often publish fake news. “I know Regina personally. I have a connection with Cássia on WhatsApp and I tell her what I think. I don’t know if it’s a waste of time…
I respect people, but it’s almost a mission to work against fake news,” she says.
For him, lies are dangerous and can be decisive for the future of a country. “Donkeys won in England, with the country’s exit from the European Union, the same in the USA, with the election of Trump, and in Brazil, with the victory of Bolsonaro in 2018. As Brazil chose Bolsonaro, one who spews lies, and not Haddad? I really like the electoral dispute, I like these clashes of ideas, but before there was PSDB and PT, now we are facing barbarism”.
He sees the start of 2023 as a time of hope, joy and relief after the victory of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PT) in the polls after four years in the government of Jair Bolsonaro (PL). “Happy to see Lula with the Yanomami instead of riding around,” he comments.
The actor says he once thought he was a politician in the ’90s, but today the hypothesis is rejected. In 1992, a photo of him appeared in Jornal do Brasil as a possible candidate after participating in Lula’s 1989 campaign.
“I was thrilled to be a federal deputy. I went out on my bike, crossing a bridge in Barra da Tijuca, there was the fishmonger who I always greeted. That day I got off my bike and went to him to hug him thinking of how many people I could have bring him to the candidacy. I realized it wouldn’t work (laughs). I love campaigning, participating in events, rallies, going to posters, but not being a professional politician”.
Return of the MinC and investments in culture
Paolo Betti welcomes the return of the Ministry of Culture, demoted to secretariat during the government of Jair Bolsonaro, and greater investments to “bombard national cinema”.
“That we can resume the interrupted cultural process. There have been occasional persecutions to release films by Lázaro Ramos and Wagner Moura. The persecution of the artist is the first thing that occurs, (Michel) Temer first wanted to put an end to the MinC, but we occupied public buildings in Rio. We did the Ocupa MEC, nobody broke anything, peaceful occupations”.
When Margareth Menezes was appointed Minister of Culture, the actor noted not only the racial prejudice, but also against her being an artist.
They said she should just be a singer, she should be a manager in the ministry. Why can’t the artist be a manager? As if we were incompetent. I supported Margareth immediately.
Reason for the criticisms of the Bolsonarists, the actor believes in dialogue to improve the Rouanet Law. “The Rouanet law needs to be changed in some respects. Famous artists have a better chance of mobilizing big companies. This needs to be changed. The money should not be moved by company marketing, but by the government.”
He complains about the misinformation surrounding the law. “The latest discussion is that Claudia Raia received BRL 5 million to make two musicals… She had an approved project to raise money to make two plays. How many people work in a musical? What is this structure? wants to get information. The law is very strict, people are screened by experts who understand the matter,” he explains.
“It happened to me too. There was a time when I signed the budget for Casa da Gávea — ex non-governmental cultural center. If you go to the ministry’s website, it will say that it had a R$1 million project in the 2000s. The memes claim that I captured this amount. It would have been wonderful, but we didn’t. It was only R$300,000 and it wasn’t enough to support the house. We had a reading class, acting training, project discussion… It was volunteering, I wasn’t getting paid. For Bolsonarists this is not important. How are you going to explain that to these people?”
Life at 70 has soap operas, theatre… And marriage?
Paulo Betti is preparing to return to the small screen in 2023. The actor has ‘Perfect Love’ scheduled for the next storyline at 6pm. “I play the role of a mayor. It’s an interesting soap opera, it comes with half of the cast being black. That, to me, is an immense joy. To be in a job that has that concern is inspiring.”
He also plans to produce the continuation of the “Authorized Autobiography” monologue, comedy that has been around for almost nine years and does not rule out acting in new films. “I want to do ‘Authorized Autobiography 2’. The first part is about my childhood and adolescence. The second part will be in the present: college at USP during the dictatorship, soap operas, political causes, participating in Lula’s campaign.. . Current themes with humor.”
She has been living with comedian Dada Coelho for seven years and feels the time to formalize the union may be near. The two went viral in 2021 when the actor proposed to the comedian during a demonstration in Rio de Janeiro against the then Bolsonaro (PL) government.
“You are more cautious than me, but we have been to all the demonstrations together. You are from the Northeast, you came from Piauí, and you have many reasons to discuss because people from the Northeast suffer from many prejudices.”
We have been together for seven years and now we have to plan our future. Maybe it’s time to think about this formality.
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