Gay Brazilian actor Luiz Felipe Lucas on challenging stereotypes in Netflix's Santo

"There is nothing more genuine than being you and telling your own story”.

Luiz Felipe Lucas smiling in the sun.
Image: Alberto Branca, IG: @alberbranca

GCN met Luiz Felipe Lucas, the actor who plays the role of Paulo in the Netflix series Santo. Black, gay, and an immigrant in Europe, the Brazilian actor welcomed us in Barcelona, where he currently lives, for a conversation about his work, homophobia, racism, and his plans for the future. Luiz told us a little bit about his career that led him to be on Catalan stages, to exhibit his work in Spain, Italy, and Austria, and finally to reach the largest streaming network in the world.

Born in Juiz de Fora, in the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil, Luiz Felipe Lucas crossed the ocean to explore his artistic work in Europe. Without expectations, he moved to Barcelona because his family was already living in the city. He ended up staying longer than he expected, but he doesn’t lose touch with his home country and tries to return whenever he can.

Luiz took the first steps as an actor while still in school. He later graduated in Rio de Janeiro and started working in several professional theater groups in the Brazilian city. Going to Spain was an opportunity to explore his solo work and expand into other types of performance he already had in mind.

In Spain, he went through several castings and finally got his role in Santo. The series, which tells the story of a mysterious drug dealer, is produced between Spain and Brazil, where the actor plays the role of a Federal Police agent.

Created by the Spanish director Carlos Lopez, Santo also features the Brazilian actor Bruno Gagliasso, the Spanish actor Raúl Arévalo and the Portuguese actor Victoria Guerra in the cast.

The series was a completely different world to Luiz. According to him, “this was a size of production I wasn’t so used to and a reach that I had never experienced before”.

About his character, Luiz Felipe Lucas reveals that Paulo went towards the type of work with which he identifies and which he tries to prioritise, mainly because he is a Black man himself. “I’m always looking for interesting characters and getting away from stereotypes, like rationalised characters. I try to get characters that can create a different image”, explained the actor to GCN.

As a gay person of colour, Luiz believes that “There is a new perspective of bringing true stories to the screen. We are finally putting Black people in common characters, without being stereotyped. The construction and moment we are living are very beautiful and it is a change that is a reflection of today’s society. It is important to continue working on these characters because the information is now available to everyone and that creates an impact”.

Luiz being interviewed in Barcelona.

About being Black, gay, and an immigrant in Europe, the actor quotes fellow Brazilian, singer Linn da Quebrada, by saying that “I am everything you defined as failure, but I am here and I’m alive”.

“Me and other people got to the places we are today with many obstacles, but I believe we are at a turning point in history. Can you imagine art without an LGBT community?”, asks Luiz.

The actor believes that “The LGBTQ+ community is in a key moment in terms of visibility. We are creating new stories told by us. Before our stories were told by other people. We are telling our story ourselves now, without needing the tools of others. There is nothing more genuine than being you and telling your own story”.

He doesn’t hide that “pink money” does exist and that there is a tendency for creating gay characters and using gay actors to ensure sales, however, he prefers to be realistic and thinks that “capitalism is out there and you can’t escape from it. We have to keep working no matter what to make our money. However, we can see this as a chance to do it and at the same time be aware of our role and the impact our work can have on people and society”.

Portrait of Luiz Felipe Lucas.

On racism in the industry, the actor remains positive, believing that “racism exists and is part of everyday life. There are barriers, yes, but there are also new perspectives. A great tool for overcoming barriers is to hold tight to these new perspectives. There is a strong community producing content everywhere that manages to break down these barriers and live in the mainstream, not just in racial niches”.

In addition to Netflix, Luiz Felipe Lucas performed at the National Theater of Catalonia and also at the Sala Periferia Cimarronas, in Barcelona, ​​with his solo project O Tiro that not only was sold out every night but also ended up being exposed on video at the MQ – MuseumsQuartier Wien in Vienna, Austria.

However, Luiz does way more than acting, and he is already preparing a new musical project in partnership with two Brazilian producers. According to him, “this is the first time I start with music. We are discovering what the sound identity of the project will be. Maybe next year there will be some news.”

To the question of when he will perform in Ireland, Luiz Felipe Lucas says he wants to keep challenging himself and he is open to everything. He believes that the impact of art goes beyond the language, so maybe one day we will see him on Irish stages.

© 2022 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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