‘Anitta: Made In Honório’: Who is Anitta? Rags-to-riches story of bisexual Brazilian singer in Netflix series
Anitta began her musical career at a very early age (she was eight or nine) as a choir singer. 'I used to tell my family that I was going to be a singer since I learned how to talk,' she once said
Brazilian singer, songwriter, television host, actress, and businesswoman Larissa de Macedo Machado, more popularly known by her stage name, Anitta, as per a 2020 profile in Time magazine, “pushed her way up from a childhood in Rio’s favela neighborhoods to her current perch, at 27, as the music-obsessed country’s most recognizable new talent; she has taken home a slew of global and domestic awards, and it’s a rare week without her name at the top of her country’s charts.”
The subject of a 2016 six-part Netflix docuseries called ‘Vai Anitta’ -- the series followed Anitta behind-the-scenes, and explored what made this very young, self-managed talent such a huge star in Brazil and how she is building her international career -- now is soon to become the subject of another Netflix docuseries, ‘Anitta: Made In Honório’. The docuseries, Netflix claims, shows, in an unprecedented way, the private life and career of Anitta. The series closely follows the controversial and fascinating artist in her intimacy and during the preparation of important shows on different stages around the world. It also shows her on the road and in meetings with her staff, while accumulating two roles: as an artist and entrepreneur.
Anitta was born on March 30, 1993, in Honório Gurgel, a lower-class neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro. She was the youngest daughter of Míriam Macedo and Mauro Machado. Her mother raised her (and her brother) on her own. "I've suffered a lot of prejudice in my career because I came from these places, these humble, poor places," Anitta told NBC earlier this year. "If I can do something to try to make the next people who come after not go through the things that I went through -- for me, that's amazing."
Anitta began her musical career at a very early age (she was eight or nine) as a choir singer. “I used to tell my family that I was going to be a singer since I learned how to talk,” she once said in an interview. At some point in her life, she decided to give up on her Christian name and adopted Anitta as her identity. It was reportedly inspired by the character Anita from the TV series ‘Presença de Anita’.
“The show is about an 18-year-old, Lolita-type girl who everyone was interested in -- the kids, the neighbors, the women, and men. She would say that it wasn’t necessary for a person to be one kind of person. One day she’d wake up and be Ane, the next day she’d be María, and the next she’d be Ashley or Jennifer. She chose to be romantic, sensual, intelligent, aggressive, or sexy. She could be all those women; whatever she wanted. That’s what I loved about her character,” she said in an interview.
A 2018 profile on Rolling Stone magazine described her music as an “intoxicating mix of funk-carioca, reggaeton, and fizzy dance-pop”. She told the magazine, “It’s rare that [a Brazilian] goes international in pop. I have been working in the Brazilian market for seven years, but I just started working the international market one year ago. Things will not go faster, easier, or get bigger quickly than they have in my country -- it’s a matter of putting in the work.”
She did put in the work and it showed. Her 2017 single ‘Paradinha’ dethroned ‘Despacito’ from Number One on multiple Brazilian Billboard charts. She co-starred on tracks with Colombian reggaeton ambassadors J Balvin and Maluma, as well as Alesso, Major Lazer, and Brazilian drag superstar Pabllo Vittar. She’s also had collaborations with global stars like Madonna, Snoop Dogg, Diplo, and Brazilian legend Caetano Veloso. “I’ve been in the studio with Pharrell and Rita Ora,” she told Rolling Stone, “and I’ve been talking to Dua Lipa as well.”
Earlier this year, the Latin Grammy-nominated singer dropped a single called ‘Me Gusta’, featuring Grammy-winning rapper Cardi B and Puerto Rican singer Myke Towers. She’s sold out arenas in her home country. But she did not stop there. She has regaled international audiences in one-off gigs, including a night at the prestigious Albert Royal Hall in London.
Anitta is openly bisexual in a country that is now under the reign of the staunchly conservative leader Jair Bolsonaro. After Bolsonaro was elected president of Brazil in October 2018, he has seemingly done a lot to take away rights from the LGBTQIA+ community. The Ministry of Women, Family and Human Rights, since he took office, has reportedly chosen to remove the legal protection status of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer people.
“My career was always a huge wave of criticism and prejudice,” Anitta told Time magazine. “When I decided to be sexy, when I decided to tell everyone that I also like girls, when I decided to tell everyone I change boyfriends as much as I change outfits -- I don’t care!”
“Brazil has the power to be one of the biggest countries in the world,” Anitta said. “We got used to being exploited by the government, and we forgot how valuable [our culture is]. That’s why I try to bring this back to the people. The way we party, the way we have energy to receive people, to welcome people: it’s different.”
‘Anitta: Made In Honório’ will premiere on Netflix on December 16.