Anitta is more than just the girl from Rio
Anitta is more than just a girl from Rio.
The 28-year-old superstar – real name Larissa de Macedo Machado – is a household name in her native Brazil thanks to her infectious singles and club bangers, but she’s also become a prominent voice for a generation of young thinkers through her advocacy for LGBTQ+ issues, politics and body positivity.
She’s just released her new single, Girl From Rio – her first full English-language single, with production from pop veterans Stargate and songwriting from British singer Raye, with hopes of conquering global markets.
Without a doubt, Anitta is an artist worth knowing about.
In 2018, the singer confirmed she was bisexual in her hit Netflix series, Vai Anitta (Go, Anitta), proving just how unapologetic she is about being her authentic self.
Needless to say, it was a huge moment in her career and one of the many reasons her journey resonates with fans.
Opening up about the reactions to her coming out, Anitta told Metro.co.uk: ‘[I received] a lot of prejudice. Even now a days when people see interviews of mine saying I’ve been with women before, they’re like, “Oh my God, really?”
‘It’s just a weird attitude that I get from people.
‘I actually have a lot of people saying I’m not bisexual because I’ve never dated a girl or had a long term relationship with girls – I’ve had it with boys but not girls. They always say, “she’s a liar”, but it just hasn’t happened.
‘If it happens one day, great I’ll be open to it but I’ve never met some girl that I wanted to be with in a long term relationship and it doesn’t change the fact that I’ve been with girls.’
Anitta acknowledged that if the shoe was on the other foot, she’d be branded a hypocrite, explaining: ‘Imagine if I went out and said I’m heterosexual and then someone catches me kissing a woman or being together with a woman, they’ll be like “you’re such a hypocrite, you’re not [bisexual] but you’re with a girl right now”.
‘So I’d just rather stay true. People just like to give opinions on everyone’s life decisions which is kind of uncomfortable but I’m getting used to it.’
Anitta’s influence in Brazil is so great – she’s the most-streamed artist in the country and has won five Latin Grammy Awards – that she was named the most powerful person in Brazil by Forbes magazine.
With all those eyes watching her every move, Anitta admits the pressure to be mindful of her comments but that hasn’t stopped the pop star weighing in on politics in her native country.
‘I didn’t know people were interested in who I was voting for and what my political ideology was, but I figured out people actually wanted to know and needed my position on some situations in Brazil,’ she explained. ‘The audience is following the crowd so sometimes it’s important for you to give your position so they can start to open up their minds about things.
‘In the last election, they were asking me to position myself if I was against or if I liked [the candidate] and [at the time] I didn’t understand anything about politics. I hate giving my opinion or saying something because people told me what I should say.
‘I like to have my own opinion on something and know what I think and why.’
It was a huge turning point for Anitta as she then realised the power she had among her followers.
‘After I did it, I was able to change my voice and how I can reach people and engage, then I saw how important it is and how we can make some change,’ she recalled.
‘Now, whenever some activists of female causes or race reach out and say they need me to promote a project, now I just go for it.’
Another topic Anitta refuses to shy away from – cosmetic surgery.
The Vai Malandra singer has been open about having surgical enhancements on her face and body but doesn’t want any of her young followers to look at her appearance and feel bad about themselves.
She explained: ‘I like being honest. One, because I’m a really bad liar; two, because I think that people nowadays they’re very into Instagram, magazines, photo shoots but they’re retouched.
The 28-year-old was named the most powerful person in Brazil by Forbes (Picture: WireImage)
‘Not everyone shows reality on their social media so if you keep using those as parameters in your life and think that’s what I should do, you don’t have a real level of what you’re looking at, you’re looking at a fake situation so I just like to be honest. If some teenagers look at some girl and think, “Oh, I wasn’t born like this”, I just say the truth.
‘I changed but people should change because they want to and not because they look like another person and not because everybody’s doing it.’
She added: ‘I did it because I wanted to, I don’t want people to feel frustrated as if [I] was born like this. I don’t want [my fans] to feel like they need to be like this person or that person. If you like something then keep it, don’t listen to other people’s opinions but if you don’t like it, change it.’
It’s safe to say that Anitta is ready for world domination and already has the likes of Cardi B in her corner, following their monster collaboration Me Gusta, which she describes as a career highlight and ‘humbling’ experience.
‘She was not just coming in and jumping on my track to reach a certain audience, she was pushing me so hard with her fans and her audience,’ she praised.
Sharing her thoughts on why Latin music has been able to successfully immersed itself into mainstream charts in recent years, Anitta said: ‘People can see that Spanish music has a very big audience. You can reach the charts in numbers that people singing in English do.
‘It’s hard to get to know the different cultures and languages and music within Spanish-speaking countries so it creates larger windows and doors for artists.
‘I think this is great, it’s one of the greatest things the internet has done for us.’
Anitta’s new single, Girl From Rio, is out now.