World Radio and TV

Working Lives: Rio de Janeiro

Camila Pitanga was born into a family of actors and decided to follow the profession when she studied theatre at university.

She soon became a star, gaining important roles in Brazilian soap operas, a strong tradition in national television.

Ms Pitanga acknowledges that it's all about entertainment, but she believes her work can make people reflect about important issues.

"The work of an actor is like an ambassador, you can really reach people. The way that you interpret the text says something. It affects the sensibilities of people," she says.

She is studying history as well as African traditions for her leading role as the daughter of an ex-slave in the new soap opera, Lado a Lado.

The protagonist in the show is a strong black woman who offers a different model than that of the victim, as have often been the roles available in the past, says Ms Pitanga.

She says there are strong parallels between the period in which the soap opera is set - the early 1900s, when major urban reformations were taking place in Rio - and today, with many changes being carried out in the city for the 2016 Olympics.

"I am happy to be doing this project because it is giving me an opportunity to think about this. Who are we? To answer this, we have to look at history and connect to our roots."