Saturday, May 14, 2011

Starstruck: Brazilian celebrities in and around New York

Diego Miguel. Photo
It was Brazilian Day 2010. I was squeezing my way through the crowds on 46th when I spotted a familiar face. Leaning against side of a building was a beautiful individual wearing a men’s tank that showed of his chiseled figure. His dark eyes scanned the crowd as he simultaneously talked with his entourage. He looked just like a model. Oh, wait. He IS a model. I was staring straight at Diego Miguel

How in the world would I, a relative fashion-ignorant, know who Diego Miguel is? It all started when I returned from a trip to Brazil in 2009 and was looking for Brazliian blogs and news sites, so I could stay informed. The google search results for “Brazil blogs” were pretty slim, but I came across one that looked promising: Made In Brazil. When I clicked on the link, I didn’t find the political, cultural and sports news I was hoping for. Instead I was bombarded with images of beautiful, tanned men and women donning the highest fashion and/or the skimpiest bathing suits. I kept clicking. I recognized a few names in the captions, Gisele Bundchen, Alessandra Ambrosio, but the remaining names and faces I didn’t recognize. Made in Brazil is essentially and English language gossip blog about Brazilian celebrities and up and coming models. Although not what I had set out to find, Made in Brazil still served my higher purpose of staying on top of Brazilian (cultural) affairs, so I signed up for the rss feed. Now, every morning I wake up to an email chock full of photos of Brazilian models (mostly shirtless, 20-something males.) Not a bad way to start the day, right?

So that’s the story of how I recognized Diego Miguel. Since then that fateful day in September, I’ve started to pay attention to the who’s who of Brazil, especially those celebs living in or visiting New York City. And recently, I've learned of a few more to look out for. 

Two nights ago a new Brazilian reality show aired which was filmed in New York. In the first episode Luciana Gimenez, the host of the popular variety show Super Pop, was joined by Matheus Mazzafera, stylist to the stars, for a day of adventure in the Big Apple. Ex-model and TV personality Fabiana Saba, who also lives in New York, joined her friends for a champaign picnic in Central Park. I wish I had known about the show back in April when they were filming, but I only just found out about it. Still, I now know to keep my eye out for Ms. Gimenez and Ms. Saba who maintain New York residences and for Matheus Mazzafera who bounces between New York and Brazil on a regular basis. Here is the first episode (it's in Portuguese.)

I was familiar with Fabiana Saba before I saw the Super Pop segment, but I hadn't known she lived full time in NYC. Fabiana is very active on Twitter and has recently been plugging a charity event she is helping to organize. From Twitter, I've inferred that Fabiana is working with two Brazilian organizations, The Brazil Foundation and Brazil Child Health, to host a Festa Junina fundraiser on June 5th. 
Festa Junina is the Brazilian celebration of St. John the Baptist. Catholic Portuguese colonists brought the tradition to the Brazilian Northeast, but today the holiday is celebrated nation wide, regardless of creed. To acknowledge Junina's rural, Northeastern roots, celebrations feature country style dress, food, and dance. In 2009, I attended a Festa Junina at the school of a friend's son in Santarém, Pará. All the boys dressed in straw hats and checkered shirts, and the girls wore pig-tail braids and frilly dresses for their performance of the traditional Quadrilha dance. It was adorable. 

Quadrilha Junina. Photo: Ms. Julia Recommends
After experiencing Festa Junina once, I will never pass up an opportunity to celebrate it again. It's fun for the whole family. This Festa Junina celebration in New York, however, will be a little different from the one I attended in the Brazilian Amazon. The main reason being its celebrity presence. The daughters of Brazilian super model Alessandra Ambrosia are slated to be the stars of the show. And I’m assuming Ms. Ambrosia will be there with her children. Perhaps mom's model friend will join the fun, too. The Brazil Foundation is kind of a big deal, so who knows who else might show? Gisele Bundchen was among the guests at the Foundation's annual Brazil Gala back in September. Maybe I’ll see Tom Brady, too.
But, I’m getting ahead of myself. I don't even know what I would do if I were to see all these celebrities. Not only are they famous, but they are Brazilian. That could be too much to handle for a Brazil-empassioned, starstruck-prone girl like myself. The point is, there are lots of famous Brazilians living in and passing through our marvelous city. If you keep your eyes and ears open, you are bound to recognize at least a few. Whether or not you approach them for a picture or autograph is up to you!

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