I don’t mean to beat a Brazilian Horse, but it looks like our neighbors to the south are at it again. On the heels of an article we shared this week about Globo TV airing a show about a white woman who “becomes” black by painting herself brown and donning an afro wig in order to sleep with a black man, the wonderful blog Black Women in Brazil shared another troubling story about the casting of the Brazilian production of The Lion King.

While producers of the show, O Rei Leão (The Lion King), supposedlyput out a casting call for black and/or brown children to play the lead roles of Simba and Nala, the finalists for the roles are reportedly white children who are artificially tanning their skin to fit the characters’ description.

A Brazilian newspaper, Folha de S.Paulo, reports:

The production of the Disney musical O Rei Leão (The Lion King) sought black or brown children to play the protagonists Simba and Nala in the Brazilian edition, which debuts in March. But most of the child actors in the final phase of auditions are white. Two finalists declared to the Folha news column that they are using tanning spray to darken their skin to suit the production. The T4F company, which is assembling the show, says it didn’t recommend the procedure to applicants. In American and English versions of the show, the protagonists are black.

It’s hard to imagine the producers of the show could not find any black or brown children to cast as Simba and Nala considering Brazil has the largest population of African-descended people outside of Nigeria.

But I guess it makes sense. Despite the country’s diversity, darker skinned Brazilians are almost always absent from TV and in the media, so it’s no surprise that the show’s producers would end up casting white actors to play roles traditionally held by actors of color.

Interestingly enough, the blog Black Women of Brazil (BWB) also said a production of The Color Purple was said to be heading to the country, but it’s apparently running into problems. The show, which would need an all-black cast, is having trouble securing funding from investors who are unsure if Brazilian audiences will pay to see an all-black show. Gatas Negras of BWB laments, “I guess that’s just how things go in a “racial democracy,” where race is not allegedly a problem…except when you’re black.

  • http://urbanexpressive.wordpress.com urbanexpressive

    Many years ago, before I was an adult I used to dream of living in Brazil because of its Black population. It seemed, at the time to be proud of its Afro heritage but that bubble was bursted long ago. It’s very unfortunate whats going on there, but I think its making minor improvements. Still a loooong way to go. Whats unfortunate is that their society at times pretends as if there is unity there. I’m not surprised at all that they picked white kids for the lead roles. Even if they were the best of the bunch, they should have just kept looking.

  • Kacey

    I’m no conspiracy theorist but there seems to be a concerted effort over the last few years to Europeanize and white-wash the image of Brazilian society. Its been happening for a while but I think it really picked up since Brazil was awarded the 2016 Summer Olympics and since the beginning of the current economic boom in that country.

    If you notice, the representation of what a Brazilian looks like has shifted from deeply tanned-skinned, dark eyes and thick curly/wavy black hair to lightly-tanned skinned, light eyes and blond hair. In other words, Brazilians who are descended from recent German immigrants (such as Gisele Bundchen for example) have become the face of Brazil. I read an article in the NYTimes that focused on model scouts specifically targeting German communities in Brazil for new super models and ignoring (completely shutting out) the typical Brazilian woman, who is of mixed African descent. There was a recent contest held there for “Best Butt” (or some other foolish title) and not a single woman of African descent was represented.

    These stories are not coincidental. They highlight was seems to be a deliberate cultural shift to [further] ostracize and alienate Afro-Brazilians and mixed-raced Brazilians from the public eye.

  • Anthony

    I think the stories of open discrimination in Brazil are disgusting, really nothing will change until Black Brazilians raise a stink and don’t shut up until there is real reform.

  • Yb

    That exactly what I thought as well. Because Brazil is becoming a world power the media is attempting to whitewash the image of Brasil and make it more desirable to
    Western tourists and investors.

    I heard many *racist* white travellers who expressed their surprise (more like shock and dismay) when they stepped of the plane and saw that Brasil was more black than the U.S. and U.K. I remember when Obama was reelected some white boy on Facebook expressed he’s going to Brasil to escape “nigger domination.”

    People are really clueless about the racial appearance of Brasil. Media influence and brainwashing is a powerful tool.

  • http://seakifreelancedesigner.wordpress.com Seaki Fashion Designer / Illustrator

    Thank you for shedding light on the horrible racism that exist in Brazil. My mother is Lousiana and my father is from Sao Paulo, and they met in London when my mother worked as a model, and my father was on holiday. I am a product of BOTH, and had not met my grandmother from my father side until i was 10 years old. because she REFUSED to acknowledge me as her grandson. I have since mended my relationship with my paternal side of my family, and fact many of my cousins,aunts,and uncles are my most beloved aspects of of my ever growing family. When I am able to go to Sao Paulo, being an american, I can clearly see the ‘racial lines’ drawn just by observing the society. Most of the begging children are of my skin color, many of the people working at the resorts are of my skin color, etc. Once I made reservations at a 5 star hotel online, and showed up for my suite, and the person at the front desk was convinced that I was not who I said I was. Once I pulled out my american passport and spoke my perfect english, his face softened as he began to realize that I was NOT native brazilian but American. After understanding this, I put up a big fuss, spoike with the 2 managers, assuring them that I was American, in this was NOT the way we are accustomed to being treated. Needless to say I got my roomed comped, and a perfusion of apologies, but deep inside of me, it all felt empty. You see, If I had not pulled out that passport, I would have been expelled from the hotel, im sure of it. Racism is worse in Brazil because its accepted as apart of that society as apart of its ‘texture’, and as I was told by one of my elders, part of what makes brazilian people ‘beautiful in spirit’. I have since stopped going to Brazil, one because I cant afford to, but secondly. even if I could, by skin color makes me feel uncomfortable in the most unusual way. The hatred is not full of zeal or explosive like the KKK, but instead its a undertone, smooth, and appears at the MOST ‘invasive’ situations. I could be at the copa of on on one of the beautiful beaches, then suddenly you get THAT look from a white brazilian, a hate that is laced with a gracious smile and a greeting, but look into the eyes, and you know that they hate even shaking your hand. Im sorry, but I would much rather prefer the KKK, at least I could spot those idiots a mile away.

  • http://www.myblackfriendsays.com myblackfriendsays

    Brazilians got problems.

  • Sasha

    My heart hurt reading this….such a shameful culture.

  • Sasha

    They’d rather welcome known Nazi war criminals and their descendents with open arms than embrace the African heritage and culture that runs through their own veins. So sad.

  • beautiful mic

    They’re worst than Dominicans.

  • beautiful mic


  • binks

    Honestly, I’ am not surprised! Stories of racism and discrimination in Brazil isn’t a new occurance but keeps getting worse.

  • Chrissy

    That’s what happens when a society prides itself on being “colorblind” and not “seeing color.” It allows racial/color discrimination to still exist but there is no name for it. All colorblindness really is, is assimilation into the dominant group. I mean if everybody is “all the same” and “colorblind” then why have darker people on television or in plays? It really is just an excuse to discriminate. America will look something like Brazil soon the more and more mixed kids are born. Leaving darker skinned black people more discriminated against. But it won’t matter because we’ll be “colorblind” and “post-racial.”

  • DownSouth Transplant

    It’s hard to raise a stink when they systematically erase your racial identity, what do you mean you ask? I’m glad you asked, in Brasil the Afro descendant, when they have children & at the hospital depending on the shade/hue of their skin per the nurses/doctors vision/lighting they may be classified as white. I have met white Brasilians on paper & turned out darker than me with Afro’s curlier than mine in person. When i ask gently, they told me it is not what you actually are, or your parents race but rather the skin tone at birth, that is what the birth paper says you are & they rarely dispute what is put on paper.

  • flower

    this is so sad you mean to tell me in the black country in the entire western hemisphere they can find a good black actors, dancers and singers…bull sh*t …Jotta A. (youtube him) could of played baby simba…the colorism in Brazil is so sad

  • Eyes Wide Shut

    Social engineering……….

    All it takes is about 4-5 centuries.

    In all seriousness though, when you condition a people to WILLINGLY subjugate/dehumanize themselves (class divisions, racial divisions, etc. etc.), the battle has already been won, the rest is up to the subjugated. The old colonial powers have done their job and have done it WELL……

    I have always wanted to go to Brazil (especially for Carnival), but I started to read about the overt racism there and I changed my mind.

    As someone said above, the fact that former Nazis are embraced while the natives and blacks are not, speaks volumes.

    I remember watching the closing ceremony of the London Olympics, I swear they had nothing but European looking Victoria’s Secret models in their Brazil segment……not one person of color in sight. Not all Brazilians look like Adriana Lima or Gisele Bundchen.


  • Lima

    Hah you won’t find much overt racism in the northern regions of America. It’s subtle and invasive here too.

  • naan

    Okay Clutch, dont yiu believe this is a silly argument to make??? The Lion King is a show about ANIMALS, NOT Black human beings . They probably to an extent prefer darker actors because the LK is a large production and tanning getd expensive if u have to tan 100+ performers every night/ keep up with their tanning…. to reflect brown animals.

  • Pearlsrevealed

    Time to dust off this broken record I used to play all the time…..

    Uh hmm

    This whitening of Brazilian society in their media is comparable to the whitening of RnB in the western hemisphere. Thanks to the corporate buy out of mom n pop black stations by Clear Channel, record labels have no choice but to cater to the warped merchandising of our music.

    Case in point…..Cheryl “Ghetto baby”


    There are a gazillion black folks who can produce good music and AnR folks at record companies still sign these artist. Yet these radio stations won’t play them. These artist cant get over via digital media like youtube because we won’t “click” to purchase. The middle aged & older generations of black folk that know what is good music but still wait for radio to wake up and figure it out. We don’t realize it is part of the plan to whiten the USA.

    Our music is the most popular export to the world and 10 years ago we allowed our artists to be shut out of the game. Remember Motown & Soul Train provided the first consistent media exposure of black faces of any kind to our nation. Wake up and open your eyes to the conspiracy to whiten the USA.

    We need a revolution. We need to take our power back. We need to purposely support our artist sans radio. If we don’t then we will be right where our Brazilian brothers and sister are: invisible.

  • Debbie

    it’s a wicked world we live in.

  • Kim

    If you could read, you would realize the argument is not that of Clutch. SMDH.

  • kelly

    I agree, But I feel like its also Latin America as a whole.. To me the contient is like a little Africa, But hopefully one day the brothers and sister will start their revolution, and force change…

  • Mikela123

    Unfortunately Black people are full participants in the white-washing of America. The nineties when we had a pseudo-revival of the Black is Beautiful movement is over. We want to be “Post-Black”, part of “post-racial” America, and this is what we get.

    Most of us still don’t understand that there is no such thing as post-racial. and Post-black?? Please, Toure is trying so hard to run from Blackness (unless he needs a job to talk about being Black – then he’s first in line.) its all about assimilation and erasure of Blackness, or keeping it at least in an inferior position.

    Another reason for so many of participating in this white-washing is unfettered capitalism. Today, nothing matters more than making money. People will sell their soul to the devils for money. And conglomerates control everything today. Yes, you are we need a revolution. But people have to first realize we need one first.

  • Anansa

    Exactly Chrissy. That’s why I cringe whenever I hear someone say, “I don’t see color…” or “I want diversity” when it really means anything but Black. My nephew prides himself on being so open to other races yet he has never dated a Black girl and does not have one Black female friend. I blame his parents more than him.

  • Shell

    your a clueless idiot! and obviously never seen the production!

  • WhatIThink

    This will continue to happen until black folks world wide realize that they cannot continue to live on this planet as bystanders and passengers in a system owned and controlled by someone else. The history of colonization in America and the world tells you point blank what these people think about exploitation. It is fine as long as it benefits them and the corporate bottom line. If that means exterminating a whole lot of people of color in the process. Then so be it. Nothing really changed since the civil rights act was passed other than this allowed blacks to be happy bystanders and passengers on the white ship, thinking that this was acceptable and progress. It is not. The whole purpose of this movement, which was started by whites, was to remake America’s image in the mind of the world into something other than what it is. America and Britain, along with Spain, Portugal, Belgium and France were doing all the things that Hitler talked about 400 years ago. So of course Germans should feel at home there. Look up “racial whitening of Brazil” on the net and this has been systematically and scientifically promoted in Brazil since the late 1800s.

    But because of the brainwashing of black people, they actually believe that just being in America as a bystander with no real power is an achievement, which means that you will simply slowly disappear and not even raise a fuss. And as someone else said, more often than not, black folks will be the biggest participants in the process of their own genocide. Now that these white societies have literally got black folks by the balls, because they have no economic, social, or political system of their own to care for their own survival, they can start being more blatant in their continued agenda of systematically wiping black folks off the map once and for all.

    No, the answer isn’t to simply be a passive bystander, the answer is to have your own. And in my mind that is in Africa, which has the same problems, but at least it is ours. The Americas are a lost cause and they will continue to bring in folks from all over the planet to guarantee the eventual extermination of black folks by design. Unfortunately black folks are so backward and dysfunctional they have to fight the enemy within themselves before they can begin to address those from outside.

  • Wassup

    And that is saying a lot….

  • ShakingMyHead

    Actually what I think they mean is anything but a black/dark skin woman. They like the dark boys, but can’t stand the girls. Most mainstream shows will quicker showcase a dark skin black man with anything but a dark skin black woman than the other way around.
    That is their idea of diversity, black men and other, who will have mixed race little girls to continue the tradition…..The worst part is that the black community is happily helping them bring their plan to fruition.

  • Pearlsrevealed

    Well said.

  • Pearlsrevealed

    Must add that it is not that we never tried to own capital. “They” burned down our Black Wall Street in Tulsa, OK and many other self sufficient black towns like Rosewood. Month’s before his death, MLK had begun to organize the Poor People’s Campaign to convert newly gained civil liberties into economic power. There just has not been a charismatic voice or effective organization to galvanize the masses to re-build the economic infrastructure within our community.

  • Sigh

    And what have we done since then? Blacks of yesteryear are not the same as blacks of today, sadly.

  • Pingback: Brazilian Version of ‘Lion King’ Can’t Find Black Kids to Fill Roles | EURweb

  • http://brasilinteractivemap.wordpress.com Brasil_Researcher

    “Brazil has the largest population of African-descended people outside of Nigeria.”

    That is an old historic fact that does not fit anymore with what Brazil is today.
    Facts are: Brazil, during the old days (1000 years ago) when the Portuguese (with help of the british), the french and dutch ruled parts of Brazil, brought between 4-6 million slaves from Africa (also thanks to their black slave traders in Africa). That is an historic fact. Another fact that is being ignored (i’m suprised by blacks in the US who are so obssessed about that slavery topic) many of them were murdered by working hard and millions mixed with other races by time.

    Brazil’s today majority are whites and mixed bi racial and tri-racial brazilians.
    Only in some parts (states in the north east region) the african culture mixed with other cultures (mainly european) was and is still very strong, and the population are overwhelming ixed races.

    We in Brazil aren’t “obssessed” about afro cutlures compare to blacks (most of them have white roots in them but ignore) in the United States, though it a culture of our nation.

    It’s a shame that there are black Brazilians, who are in reality mixed race, copy the nonsense of divide and conquer by using for everything the “black” race if there is a problem.

    “The show, which would need an all-black cast, is having trouble securing funding from investors who are unsure if Brazilian audiences will pay to see an all-black show.”

    I personal care less if it’s a so called (race divide show) all black cast, facts are, with dna tests, most of them aren’t all black at all, that’s a fact. for real black. go to Africa. If security will be a problem, so be it, they, big sponsor do not have to sponsor it and get themself into trouble with all the race divide nonsense imported from fake black and white liberals from the Good OL USA. Yes, we know here in Brazil what they are up to.
    Brazilian audiences love to watch great programs and most programs on tv have all people on the show, brown,light skinned, black, asian, native american, white. They are Brazilians.

    Who cares that they could not find a brown or black kid to perform in the show. Facts are brown (mixed), black, light skin (mixed), asian, native american, white, who has the money today (most of them) will watch and care less what a “black” in the US thinks.

    Brazilians don’t have problems, it’s you, the black peoplein the US who are obssessed with so called “black issues”. Again, those people, majority of those blacks aren’t real black. Travel to Brazil, open your eyes, because you can see it. Btw, they also exist in the USA, but those people are being ignored..worse than in Brazil.

    It’s kinda sad that only so called black magazines only for blacks are interested in this nonsense, but i guess they love it, since Brazil is in the spotlight.

    Greetings from a 100% Brazilian of Norwegian, german, black and portuguese roots..yes I’m a mixed person, like most Brazilians, the majority and proud of it.

Latest Stories

10 Questions No One Will Ask Ex-Boxing Champ Kassim Ouma After Assaulting a Man Who Came On To Him


10 Things We Can Learn From Olivia Pope On “Scandal”


Struggling To Tell Black People Apart? Watch David Alan Grier Hilariously Break It Down


Carol’s Daughter Files For Bankruptcy

More in Brazil, race
Wait, What? On Brazilian TV, White Woman Goes ‘Undercover’ as a Black Woman to Fulfill Her Fantasy–Have Sex With A Black Man
Should White Men Be Racially Profiled?