Anitta had imagined that this summer would be a hiatus: a period in which she could record new music. This would have followed 10 years in which she became Brazil’s biggest pop star, including stadium tours, a Netflix documentary series about her life, and hits with Madonna, Snoop Dogg and Rita Ora – who have her. all turned from a Rio favela to glory. Instead, she was quarantined at home with her five dogs, infiltrated into her country’s politics, and portrayed as a future Brazilian president.
I speak to him in early June, as the coronavirus pandemic tightens its grip in Brazil. (The country’s death toll is now the second highest in the world.) Protesters rallied to denounce President Jair Bolsonaro, who urged governors to open states while dismissing Covid-19 as “a little flu And reminding Brazilians that “we will all die one day”. Some of the protests have expanded to include issues of systemic racism and police brutality plaguing Brazil’s population, who are 50.7 percent black or mixed race, according to a 2010 census. The country is seething with unrest.
Anitta is amplified by all of this because she has seen that when she decides to speak, people get up and notice. Weeks before our discussion, she invited Brazilian politician Felipe Carreras to debate a contentious legal amendment that would have changed the way artists are paid for their copyright. Anitta was furious that Carreras had introduced her – surreptitiously, she said – at a time when Brazilians were distracted by the health crisis and her anger was palpable during a tense 45-minute argument, broadcast to her 47 million subscribers. on Instagram Live. On stage, she is known to be daring and empowered, and she channeled that into the conversation; she was hard, almost relentless. Three days later, Carreras withdrew the invoice. “I felt like a hero,” Anitta tells me. “And then came the craziest part.
Defenders began to alert him to other causes they were working on. (She touched on a few, including deforestation in the Amazon.) In June, a poll in the O Globo newspaper indicated that she was the third most influential politician in the country and fans urged her to stand up. present to the presidency. “The law does not give you the right to run until 35 years old. I’m 27 years old, ”she says. “A lot of journalists called me and said, ‘Are you going to listen to people and run?’ I was like, “Guys, I’m just trying to help! Wait!’ “
Anitta speaks a mile per minute – whether in Portuguese, Spanish, or English – and she’s so emphatic you can practically hear her gesticulate. She is known as a workhorse whose business acumen, endurance and drive drove her to learn two additional languages to break down market barriers.
“Anitta stands out for her strong personality, focus and determination,” says Sérgio Affonso, president of Warner Music Brasil, the label that signed Anitta in 2013. He says that from the moment she released her first single , she paid special attention to everything – data streaming, video concepts, social media – to consolidate her success. “She knows exactly what she wants and where she wants to go.”
His next move is to release an album, mostly in Spanish and English, through Warner Records in the United States later this year. The first single is Tócame, a reggaeton track syncopating with Puerto Rican rappers Arcángel and De La Ghetto that radiates the festive vibe from Anitta’s latest album, Kisses. But she’s also working on Girl from Rio, a brilliant R&B track in English that samples Ipanema’s bossa nova classic The Girl – it’s a smoother and sleeker addition to Anitta’s energetic catalog and has garnered 7, 6 billion flows.
Some Latin pop stars such as Maluma and Bad Bunny sing in their native languages as a marker of authenticity, but Anitta says that since Brazil has never had a big international pop star before, she will use any language that attracts market attention. “They didn’t need [to sing in English] because they already had reps like Shakira, like Ricky Martin, like J-Lo, ”she says. “There is no one in Brazil who has done it.” She jokes that she will continue to learn the language she needs to teach people about the sounds and culture of Brazil.
She doesn’t just want to be a musical ambassador, but to paint a full picture of Brazil in 2020, including its harshest realities. She says she “does not approve of Bolsonaro’s administration” and that he “did not bring benefits to our nation”. She started Instagram Live sessions with Gabriela Prioli, a lawyer who teaches Brazilian law. Anitta has also spoken out on environmental challenges and, in recent weeks, the Black Lives Matter movement and colorism – prejudices against darker skin among ethnic minorities – an issue manifested in injustice and police brutality. in the predominantly black favelas. In Rio, where Anitta still lives, police killed 606 people between January and April this year.
There are other markers of serious racial inequality. She brings up a much-discussed case in Brazil that sadly exposed issues of race and class: Mirtes Santana, a black domestic worker, left her five-year-old son with his boss, a white woman named Sarí Gaspar, while she was running. a race. On her return, she discovered that Gaspar had left the little boy alone in the elevator of his building. He wandered to a window and fell dead from the ninth floor. Gaspar was arrested but released on bail after paying £ 3,200. “Now imagine if it was the opposite,” Anitta said. “If there was a cleaning lady, a black woman, who had left a child alone in the elevator, do you think it would have been any different? Her voice trembles with anger.
Despite Anitta’s voice today, it took a long time for her to express herself. In 2018, eagle-eyed followers noticed she had been following a pro-Bolsonaro Instagram account and demanded to know if she was planning to support her conservative and anti-LGBTQ campaign. When she didn’t comment, a #AnittaIsOver hashtag started trending on Twitter. She said she had been busy reading everything she could find on Bolsonaro to form an informed opinion, and after several days shared that he was “not the [candidate] who represented her ”. But his statement was too late for some – even now they see his politically active turn as a marketing strategy.
She does not regret that it took her time to find her political voice. “I’m not ashamed of that because I’m 27,” she says. “I started getting a good education after getting money, after learning – on my own – how to start my business, how to run my own career. I think it’s never too late. I am proud of myself, I woke up and I said to myself: “It’s important for me to get involved”. “
It is questionable whether celebrities have a role in the pandemic and global political unrest. The Latin music industry has been particularly criticized for its reluctance and muffled calls for unity. (For example, social media users criticized Colombian star J Balvin for using a hashtag #AllLivesMatter.) But, while Anitta has decided to get more involved, she is hesitant to say that other artists should do even: “It depends on everyone’s safety. feels. She says it takes courage to share your political views. “When you say your political thoughts, you have 50% [saying] you’re right and you’ve got 50% that’s like, ‘you’re a bitch, I’m going to kill you.’
Anitta appears to have learned over the years to separate useful comments from attacks on her personal life – the latter including a divorce in 2018, her subsequent love life, multiple plastic surgeries, and being bisexual, all of which have made her his Brazilian tabloid. feed. When people judge her for what she calls “normal things,” she says it only makes her more eager to be true to herself.
“If I have a boyfriend and he wants to have a threesome or change couples, I feel safe and I don’t feel bad doing it if everyone is happy,” she says. “I do not care. My family knows about my bisexual life. I change my boyfriend as much as I change my outfit… The more people judge me, the more I want to say, “Hey guys, I do this and I do that! You want to know more? I do that too! “”
Plus, she doesn’t really have much time for the gossip mill. By the time we’re done talking, she tells me that she has more phone calls and scenes to shoot for the second season of her Netflix series Vai Anitta. And then, she said enthusiastically, “We have politics lessons on my Live session! It doesn’t sound too different from a politician’s daily schedule.