„I didn’t tell anyone I was gay until I got to college.“
Original article: Pablo Aragón Blanco for Folie Magazine translated by Gabby Eichberger (angelinchains)
America they say is the land of opportunities, dreams and freedom. Rafael Silva (June 18, 1994, Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil) is the living testimony of all this propaganda. The only thing that nobody said was that it wasn’t easy. He learned the hard way to be an immigrant on the ground where skyscrapers prevent you from seeing the horizon.
After being bullied since he was a preteen, he has managed to overcome himself and look ahead to a promising future. Now, together with Ronen Rubinstein, he is one of the most famous and beloved LGTBIQ+ couples on the small screen. Visibility that even in the middle of 2022 is still more than necessary. And under this umbrella, the Brazilian actor wants to be a prophet of equality because as he rightly says and sentences as a mantra „love yourself because it is not necessary to discriminate, it is not necessary to hate someone to feel better about yourself. There is room for everyone in this world“.
IMMIGRANT IN A PLACE CALLED THE WORLD
„I feel the responsibility to fight to have a space in this world“.
How did your career begin?
I was born and raised in Brazil and when I turned 13 we moved to the United States. My family is a farming family and getting there was a big culture shock. And because of that, I became more introverted, shyer and afraid to be myself, „the Brazilian“. I learned to be a Brazilian here, I learned what it meant to be an immigrant and that life was not so easy for immigrants. I had to learn English and Spanish. Then we moved to New Jersey and I studied theater in my junior year of high school and that’s right there when my acting career started.
How did you get your part in 9-1-1: Lone Star?
I was auditioning for quite a while and within a month my agent called me and said, ‚You have to go to Los Angeles to do the last phase of auditions,‘ I got here and within a week I was filming. I asked to take classes to learn how to be a cop.
Do you have a hard time playing Carlos? Looking at Carlos what are the similarities and differences?
Mentally and emotionally, Carlos needs to have a lot of control over his life and when he doesn’t, he gets a little paranoid, but Rafael is not like that.
How would you describe yourself?
I’m much more relaxed. Carlos thinks a lot about the future and Rafael thinks about the present.
How is your relationship with Ronen Rubinstein?
At the beginning of the series, we didn’t have a very close friendship, but over time he has become a great friend.
Will we see more of Carlos in the future?
In the last episode, there’s going to be a big change in their lives, in Carlos‘ life mainly and it’s going to be very interesting.
Where would you like to take the character?
I would like to learn more about the Carlos of the past. I want to know where he grew up and lived. Professionally I want to see him as a detective, although what I’m most interested in is getting to know Carlos before the first episode. His life, his family and the culture he loves.
Would you like them to do a Carlos spin-off?
Of course, I would! (Laughs out loud).
You are Brazilian and you are in a show where there is more inclusion, do you think that diversity is helping to improve the situation in the U.S.?
Sure, sure. Well, the purpose of diversity and inclusion is to show the world we live in now. It doesn’t make much sense to have an entire cast of a movie or a series that are white since America is so much more diverse.
Does your physical appearance open doors for you?
Physical appearance can open certain doors up to a point. But you also have to have a kind of discipline because physical appearance is not permanent. You can be very good-looking at 20 years old and you can get job offers easily, but you have to know what you’re doing.
What’s next after 9-1-1: Lone Star? What are we going to see from Rafael?
I would so much like to tell you, but I don’t know yet. I want to do more films because I really like to start and finish a project. I’m very grateful and I feel very lucky to be on 911, but we are constantly filming and I don’t have time for anything else. Now that we finish the season I want to take care of my mind, and my heart, travel and relax.
Will you come to Spain?
Maybe. Italy, Portugal…
Which actor or actress inspires you?
Viola Davis. She is a wonderful woman. I started watching „How To Get Away With Murder“ and it was a show that changed my view of acting thanks to her because of her struggle, her heart and her tenacity. But really the people that inspire me the most are my parents, who have fought so hard so that I and my brother could have a future, a better life here.
If you could no longer work as an actor, what would you like to do?
I live to tell stories. I don’t know how to do anything else, so if it wasn’t as an actor it would be a director or screenwriter.
Does fame make you anxious?
I don’t consider myself famous. But yes, because I know that fame is not a representation of Rafael, it’s a representation of the image that people have of who I am, but it’s not the truth. It’s the same thing with social media. I can put on Instagram or Twitter an image that shows what I want you to see, but it’s not the essence of Rafael. Sometimes I’m a little bit afraid of being judged for something I’m not.
Who is Rafael really?
I ask myself that same question every day. I’m constantly changing, but I try to be my best version.
Three adjectives that define you
Loving, fun and free.
Are you a romantic person?
My idea of a romantic person I think is not the common one. I do simple things, nothing fancy. My idea of a romantic dinner is not going out to a restaurant, it’s cooking for someone and teaching that person part of my culture.
What has been the most romantic thing you’ve done for love?
Nothing especially, but I am a person who believes that sincerity is the most romantic thing you can give to a partner.
How does Rafael seduce?
Rafael with a smile, good conversation and delicious wine.
And how do you seduce him?
With a good sense of humor, and by being a fun person, who has the ability to look at the world and see everything from a positive side.
What is the first thing you do when you wake up?
I wash my face, drink coffee, meditate, pray and try not to look at my phone before I do all that.
Where is your earthly paradise?
On the family farm in Brazil.
What makes you cry?
Knowing that one day I won’t have my parents with me.
When was the last time you asked for forgiveness?
Today. To myself.
What did you need to apologize for?
By mentally highlighting my insecurities I realized I was feeding them and so I asked for forgiveness.
What was the one comment you read somewhere about yourself or what hurt you the most?
I try not to read anything because everything affects me a lot, but there was a comment I read that said I had no talent to be in a TV series and that left me very touched.
If you could live in any era, what would it be?
In the ’50s or ’60s in Brazil where Brazilian music was wonderful.
If you could give a message to your past self, what would it be? What would you say?
Walk forward, keep going, don’t stop.
What was the last book you read?
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.
What is the last song you listened to on Spotify?
CIUMEIRA by Marília Mendonça.
How did you come out of the closet?
A month before going to college in New York I decided to tell my family. That Monday I told them that I had something very important to tell them the following Sunday and I prepared this special day so we could go to the beach, have a barbecue and eat cakes. That’s how I had it structured in my head. Then Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday came and I was trying to convince myself that I had to do that on Sunday. Sunday came, we went to the beach and I sat them down in front of me and told them I wasn’t being honest with them since I thought I was gay. It was the first time I said it out loud and I started crying pretty hard. They stood up and started clapping, they accepted me immediately.
Did your friends know?
No, no. I didn’t tell anyone until I got to college. I was afraid people would change their perception of me.
Seeing that Jonathan Bailey or Matt Bomer revealed their sexual orientation, do you think that people like you and them open the doors to new LGTBIQ+ guys or girls?
Yes, and much more being a Latin American queer actor because there is a lot of machismo in Latin America and Brazil.
What is your perfect plan for a Sunday afternoon?
Watching the sunset and walking on the beach.
Have you been bullied?
When I grew up and moved to the United States I suffered a lot of bullying when I was 13 and when I was in high school. Now sometimes I get messages that are not very polite from people that I don’t know and why they send those messages. That’s why I feel the responsibility to fight to have a space in this world.
Is there any social cause or activism that you think you should be involved in?
To put an end to the fact that we are a minority of the LGTBIQ+ collective. It’s also important to recognize the history and the violence that imperialism caused. A big part of history is hidden and that is why it is important to recognize it and show it. In Brazil, there are quite a lot of indigenous people who only ask to be treated as people, not as animals. It is ridiculous that this is happening in 2022. You have to realize that the world is bigger than your house.
What would you say to those people who promulgate hate speech?
I would tell them ‚love yourself because you don’t need to discriminate, you don’t need to hate someone to feel better about yourself. There is room for everyone in this world‘.
What is masculinity for you?
It’s an idea, it’s not something real. It’s a suggestion of how to be a type of human being, but it’s not the only way to be a man or a type of person. I was born in a country where the idea of being a man is to follow all these rules to be an alpha male.
What is your opinion about conversion therapies?
It’s malice against children. It’s horrible. You can’t change the essence of a person and it’s a direct attack on the LGTBIQ+ community.
Have you ever been discriminated against because of your sexual orientation?
Not directly, but I live that discrimination every day.
What would you like to tell the world?
The sun is giant and its light can touch everyone in this world, we have room for everyone, it is not necessary to fight for material things because when you die you can’t take anything with you.
What is mental health for you, and do you take care of it?
I have been going to therapy for many years throughout my life. Now I find my own therapy in my books, in my friends, in independence and in my work because I love what I do.
Do you consider yourself a free person?
I try to be a free person, but I don’t consider myself 100% free because every day I am discovering things about myself. It’s a learning process.
Do you worry about what others think about your physical appearance?
Professionally, yes, absolutely.
Of course, of course. I want to feel attractive too.
Modelo: Rafael Silva
Photographer: Christian Soria
Director de arte: Petita Lechatrose
Editor in Chief: Pablo Aragón