Google Doodle celebrates first trans actress to appear in Brazilian telenovelas
Google celebrated Cláudia Celeste, the first trans actress to appear in Brazilian telenovelas, with a beautiful doodle on Brazil’s homepage.
Celeste was an acclaimed singer, dancer, director, producer and author who opened the door for LGBTQ+ talent in Brazil.
She rose to fame in 1988 after she appeared as an openly trans woman in the premiere episode of Olho por Olho, a drama-filled telenovela that ran until 1989. She won the role over 200 other actors, and her commitment to the character was “unmatched”, according to Google.
She faced discrimination after she was removed from the soap opera’s cast when her trans identity was “found out” by management. But she persevered and continued forward to carve new paths in her career – making her a pioneer for trans representation and LGBTQ+ performers in Brazil.
Cláudia Celeste, who was born in 1952, explored her identity and talents while in service with the army. After her military career ended, she got her beauty diploma and became a hairdresser in Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro.
According to her, her work at the salon inspired her to transition, and she eventually gained the confidence to audition in a local theatre. She made her dance debut on the stage of the nightclub Beco de Garrafas.
A theatre in Rio de Janeiro called Teatro Rival was the first organisation in 1973 to gain a government licence to perform “O mundo é das Bonecas”. Celeste was invited to lead the performance alongside other well-known trans actors.
She was invited to perform in many nightclubs across Brazil after the show’s success, and the trans performer eventually decided to branch into beauty pageants.
Cláudia Celeste competed and won the Miss Brazil Pop pageant in 1976, and she was invited to act in a soap opera called Magic Mirror a year later after the show’s director saw Celeste perform at the Teatro Rival.
However, no one in the cast or crew knew she was trans, and she faced negative media attention after her first performance. The show was cancelled, and Celeste moved to Europe to explore other opportunities.
In 1982, Celeste appeared in two Brazilian films titled Beijo na Boca and Punk’s, Os Filhos da Noite.
She passed away on 13 May 2018 due to complications from pneumonia.