By Julia Melim

When I first started doing comedy, people told me to do what I do best and find my niche. After some thought I realized there are certain things I couldn’t be the best at, for example I couldn’t be the best at doing Shakespeare compared to an actor from the Royal Shakespeare Company. Part of success is being realistic about what you can and cannot do well. However, I could be the best at being myself! Once I started exploring my mistakes I became more human.

Once I started owning the fact that I’m Brazilian and it’s not easy being a foreigner away from your country people started relating to me. And once I realized it was okay to be myself and not try to be something I’m not, people started accepting it more and hearing what I had to say. Being able to be myself on stage is what standup comedy has allowed me to do, and not be ashamed of my past or my decisions with everything that’s good and bad about it. And that’s the gold mine.

That’s what Brazilians are the best at: being Brazilian. I say that as I realize that the Brazilian cinema has come out with a new language that makes fun of itself with a refreshing perspective. Some of the films released in Brazil in the last few years have been a great example of that, such as “Até que a Sorte nos Separe”, “Muita Calma Nessa Hora” and “Confissões de Adolescente”; and the standup comedy groups “Os Melhores do Mundo”, “Comédia Ao Vivo”, and “Comédia em Pé”. This is the proof that as Brazilians we can find our own voice.

There’s no need to imitate a different culture, create a cinema that isn’t ours, but instead show what is the best we have to offer. After traveling outside of Brazil, there are certain aspects of being Brazilian that make me love my country even more; sometimes I find myself appreciating the exact same things that people in Brazil complain about. Brazilian men for example, are known for being too passionate and eager, and going back to Brazil I started finding that a very attractive quality – as opposed to some of the Brazilian women I know who complain about it.

The more you learn about Brazilian culture, the more you love it, and the more you’re away from Brazil, the more you appreciate what a beautiful country it really is with all its imperfections. That’s what we must explore in our creative adventures: show how spontaneous, how unpredictable, how dorky, how adorable, how fascinating, how complex we really are. Don’t try to make our films into a Swedish saga, as much as I love Bergman. Be as Brazilian as you can in your own way – and own it!

* Julia Melim is an actress and standup comedian with a monthly show “Brazilian Hour” at The Stand in NYC . She is a regular Soul Brasil magazine contributor and writes about art and entertainment – www.juliamelim.com.

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