Born in Bahia, Brazil, Jéssica Barbosa,
24, became known to wide audiences after starring in director João
Daniel Tikhomiroff’s movie Beetle (Besouro), for which she
was awarded the Breakthrough Artist in the 2009 Brazilian Black Film
Festival. Beetle tells the story of the legendary capoeira fighter
Besouro Mangangá, and was selected for the 2010 Berlin International
Film Festival. In 2009 Beetle was also voted best movie in the
yearly poll by newspaper Folha de São Paulo.
Jessica was discovered by Besouro’s
renowned casting director Fátima Toledo, who is known for other successful
movies, such as The Elite Squad, City of God and Central
Director João Daniel said, “As
soon as Jessica started auditioning, we saw that besides being a great
actress, she seemed to have been molded body and soul for the role of
the hero’s romantic interest Dinorá, as well as African-Brazilian
deity Iansã (master of the wind and storms).” Apart from the challenge
of portraying two key roles in the movie, Jessica performed acrobatic
fight scenes choreographed by wire effects specialist Hiuen Chiu Ku,
the action scenes director for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,
The Matrix and Kill Bill.
her theater training at 18 in Salvador, Bahia. In 2006 she moved to
São Paulo, where she received vocal training and performed in two musicals.
Since 2007 she’s been in Rio de Janeiro, where she participated for
two years in the Performance Group Liquida Ação. She continues to
study vocal technique and capoeira, as well as refining her dance and
body language skills at the prestigious Angel Viana school.
In 2010 she will
receive her graduate degree in acting from Escola Martins Pena, the
first school for actors in Latin America.
Inspired by movie
and theater legends such as Meryl Streep, Isabelle Huppert and fellow
Brazilian Wagner Moura (from The Elite Squad), Jessica believes
that “an actor’s work is uninterrupted. Artistic development is
a lifetime’s project,” and concludes, “truly great artists are
those who never stop learning and taking risks”.