How nice was when early this year the South Korean director Bong Joon Ho said: “once you overcome the 1-inch-tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films”; even better is realizing this message is the same when talking about any forms of artistic expressions told in any other languages different from yours. In a world where representation matters, finding out all over the globe new artists to follow is always a good thing to do.
This time I had the opportunity to share with Thalles Cabral, the Brazilian actor, songwriter and musician who shares compassion and acceptance every time he smiles.
Let us read the exclusive interview while we celebrate diversity and know more about him and his most recent work.
Q: I think 2020 could be divided into three different times: 1) the first two month of planning and wishing for a better year; 2) the world we never imagined; and 3) the new, new normal. So, how would you describe this year that is about to end? How did it affect you personally? I mean, how did you feel as a young guy beyond the persona we know from the media?
Well, I believe we could all agree that it was an unpredictable year. As much as we create plans, we are not sure of anything. And many things came to light with this pandemic; the issue of social inequality was even more exposed – in a very cruel way -, just like some privileged-related problems, it was also very clear that some governments have no ability to administrate a country; even more so in a time of crisis – which is the case of Brazilian government-. For me it was a year of a lot of mental organization, of deconstructing some ideas and thoughts… I’ve learned we know nothing about the future. I’ve learned we can be adaptable to all kinds of situations. And this year confirmed two things I already knew: 1) the most important thing we have is our family and friends, and 2) it’s crucial to elect qualified politicians.
I remember being shooting a new TV show at the beginning of the year and we had to stop. Suddenly, there was all that flood of bad news… And we knew so little about the virus. I think we were all scared. Creatively it was quite stagnant at the beginning. I wrote only one song, “Where Am I Going Now?” – Recently released- a song that talks about this moment of our lives. But in June I started to develop the script of a feature film. It’s an idea that actually has survived through many years in my mind, so I thought it was time to put these ideas down on paper.
Q: Even though you have been working for many years, many people knew about you when the movie Yonlu came out in 2018. Looking backwards, what do you have to say about that film and its message? Is it still relevant?
This movie changed my life, not only personally but professionally. It made me grow a lot as an individual and an artist. I started to read more about mental health, had incredible debates about it after some public presentations around the country, also I met some really good people on that journey. It’s a film that I am very proud to be part of. Hique (Montanari), the director, had such a sensitive, empathetic and affectionate look at Yoñlu’s story. Even today I receive many, many beautiful messages from people who watched the film and have felt identified in some ways. It’s a movie about a very talented young man that died precociously, but it’s also about art and music in a very genuine way. It’s a true story that happened in 2006, but it continues being more and more relevant.
Q: What is your opinion about people watching shows or listening to music in languages different from English?
I think it’s wonderful. I believe that this trend will gain more followers and will grow stronger, these days the world is increasingly connected. With the rise of the streaming platforms, I feel that people are having the possibility and opportunity to experience shows, films and music from different places in the world that they couldn’t reach years ago. This accessibility didn’t exist that way before. This exchange of cultures, I believe, is very powerful.
Q: What are your thoughts about representation in media?
It’s the most important thing to be discussed and thought about today. It’s necessary to go after this kind of ameliorations. The representativeness and occupation of all types of bodies in all segments and places is what will make the world a better place to live. People who occupy high positions in the media (and not only the media) are usually white men. And this is reflected in the entire structure. This has to change. Everyone has the right to see themselves on the screens, to feel represented, to de identified with the stories. This can change everything in a person’s life.
Q: Few weeks ago the TV show As Five/Forever Five (2020) was released via streaming, it is doing really well as a weekly show and you play a quite particular character. Generally speaking, one of the things I like the most about the show is that As Five demonstrate life keeps going on after high school and that does not mean you are a total grown up just because you finished school or stopped living with your parents. According to you, what other messages the show has to offer?
As Five is a show that talks about what is like to be young in this current society. It’s about growing up – which can be very painful sometimes, but also fun -, about friendship, diversity, the responsibilities that come along with adulthood and also is a show about understanding yourself as an individual within this society.
Q:Nem is the name of your character on As Five, how would you describe him and that given name of his (especially for those who do not speak Portuguese)?
Nem is an introspective and unpredictable boy with a very peculiar mood. He says what comes to his mind, without any kind of filter (which is a good and bad thing). Besides, he has a certain computer addiction; but this will be more developed in the plot during the next episodes. And yes! Nem is a very peculiar nickname… but it’s also a mystery to me, (ha ha). Soon we’ll find out his real name.
7. Why should young people watch As Five?
To watch themselves portrayed on screens, in a light, fun and true way.
Q: Let us talk about your music. What do you have to say about the Sad Boys Club?
Sad Boys Club was inspired by the movie My Own Private Idaho, directed by Gus Van Sant (one of my favorite directors). That was the first single from Utopia; it came out before the album was released. As an independent singer, I was really surprised when the song debuted in “Viral 50”, a popular Brazilian playlist on Spotify. I couldn’t believe it! This was so special to me because I really love this song and was nice to see how people responded to it.
Q: Talking about your songs; one of my favorites is Far Away from Haven, especially because part of its lyrics says: “I’m done being brave”. What is like to show others your vulnerabilities through music? Do you consider it is OK to tell others the way you feel?
Absolutely! I think all of my musical work is about that, actually this is how I relate to art in general. I sing about my generation and everything that comes with it: the joy and sorrows we experience, including the beautiful and ugly parts.
Q:Where Am I Going Now? is the name of your latest EP, you have written the songs and directed the music videos. Listening to it and watching the videos, I noticed some mental health implications. Talking about that topic, what is your message to all the teens who nowadays are struggling with their minds?
The feeling of not belonging is a feeling that everyone experiences at some point in life. And this is absolutely normal. My message for all of you to surround yourself with the loved ones, always have a direct and sincere conversation with your family, and the most important thing: take care of yourself both physically and mentally. Our bodies and minds are the most precious thing we have; they are our tools the ones that will be with us for the rest of our lives. And, please, do not ever hesitate to seek assistance and always ask for help.
Q: Anything else you would like to share with Vanity Teen?
First I’d like to thank you for this invitation to talk about my work during this interview for Vanity Teen. It’s so nice to have a space like this to talk about art. Thank you!
And may 2021 be a kinder year to all of us. That’s what I hope.
Before we go
Remember this: you matter! We all do, let us be kind to each other.
And, if just like Thalles you are done being brave, look for help, you are not alone.