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Sonia Braga

Sonia Braga is the sexy, smoldering actress who rose to stardom in her native Brazil through work on a series of lavish soap operas for the television network TV-Globo. Roles in feature films like A Moreninha (1970), Capitão Bandeira vs Dr Moura Brasil (1970) and The Couple (1974), as well as the hit TV-soap Gabriela, Clove and Cinnamon (based on the Jorge Amado novel) were turning points for Braga who became a sensation throughout Brazil and Latin America, and even parts of Europe. But it was her pivotal role in director Bruno Barreto's film Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands (1978, based on yet another Jorge Amado novel), that first gained Sonia Braga international attention. As a bored housewife seduced by the ghost of her first husband, Braga suggested sensuality and vulnerability in delightful, subtle ways. Criticallyand commercially successful, Dona Flor was often credited with putting Brazilian cinema novo on the international map. In 1982 she starred in director Arnaldo Jabor's Eu Te Amo which competed at the Cannes Film Festival.

Called the Marilyn Monroe of South America, a true Latin beauty with special comedic gifts, Braga also knows something about the strictures of type-casting which she, too, has transcended. She has been a professional actress since age 14. One of seven children, she was born June 8, 1950, in the small town of Maringá, deep in the Brazilian state of Paraná. After her father's death when she was eight years old, she was raised in a convent school in São Paulo. Her first TV part, in a children's show The Enchanted Garden, starkly contrasted with her role in a Brazilian production of Hair at age 18, when she caused a minor scandal by appearing on-stage in the nude.

Those performances paved the way for other roles including Kiss of the Spider Woman, her English language debut where she played three parts: Valentin's girlfriend Marta, French chanteuse Leni LaMaison in Nazi-occupied Paris, as well as the Spider Woman title-character.

Kiss of the Spider Woman author Manuel Puig was thrilled with the casting of Braga, which he felt embodied his novel's pervasive theme: Woman as Muse, Love, Death -- Fantasy, filmic or flesh and blood -- To the men who either dreamed about or identified with them, women were One. During filming in São Paulo, while Portuguese-speaking producer David Weisman coached Sonia's English-language dialogue, Puig helped Braga find the expressions and body-language of a period-1940s chanteuse -- amusingly acting out for her, with both his hands coyly arched on one hip, the exaggerated gestures of German film-star Zara Leander.

Braga's international success helped establish the naturally dark Brazilian beauty as worthy in a culture which tended to glorify blondeness -- at a time when, as she says, "All of our movie stars looked like Doris Day and the women bleached their hair to look like Brigitte Bardot." Shortly after filming her roles in Kiss of the Spider Woman, Braga co-starred with Marcello Mastroianni in Bruno Barreto's big-screen adaptation of Gabriela, for MGM. Subsequently she starred in director Paul Mazursky's Moon Over Parador (1988) opposite Raul Julia and Richard Dreyfus, as the sexy First Lady of a fictitious Latin American Republic. She played a Chicana activist in Robert Redford's The Milagro Beanfield War (1988), then appeared in The Rookie (1990) with Raul Julia, Charlie Sheen and Clint Eastwood, and also opposite Edward James Olmos in Roosters (1995). She then returned to Brazil to play the title-role in director Carlos Diegues' Tietà (1996). During 2001, Braga will be seen in Michael Rymer's Perfume, as well as opposite Jennifer Lopez in Angel Eyes, and in Franc Reyes' Empire.

Note: This profile was written in or before 2002.

Sonia Braga Facts

Birth Name Sônia Maria Campos Braga
BirthdayJune 8, 1950 (73)
BirthplaceMaringá, Brazil
Height5' 2" (1m57)  How tall is Sonia Braga compared to you?

Selected Filmography

Clint Eastwood: Star Power
Angel Eyes
The Milagro Beanfield War
Hallmark Valentine's Day Quad
Moon Over Parador
The Rookie
American Me / Empire
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