Maria da Graça Xuxa Meneghel (Portuguese: [maˈɾia da ˈgɾasa ˈʃuʃa mẽneˈgɛw]; born March 27, 1963), commonly known as Xuxa (English pronunciation: // SHOO-shə; Portuguese: [ˈʃuʃɐ]), is a Brazilian television presenter, film actress, singer and businesswoman. Her various shows have been broadcast in Portuguese, English, and Spanish worldwide. She is a two-time winner of the Latin Grammy award for Best Children's Album, and is also known for her epithet, "Queen of the Shorties".
Over her 30-year career, Xuxa Meneghel has sold over 40 million copies of her records worldwide, which makes her the second-highest selling Brazilian female singer after Rita Lee. Her net worth was estimated at US$100 million in the early 1990s. As of 2015, she continues to be among Brazil's most prominent celebrities. Also successful as a businesswoman, she has the highest net worth of any Brazilian female entertainer, estimated at US$1 billion.
Maria da Graça Meneghel was born in Santa Rosa, Rio Grande do Sul. During her birth, Meneghel's father, Luiz Floriano Meneghel, was told that both mother and child were at risk. He opted to save his wife, Alda Meneghel (née Alda Flores da Rocha), and prayed to St. Mary of Graces, promising to name his daughter after the saint if all went well.
Although she was originally named after Saint Mary of Graces, Xuxa, the youngest member of the Meneghel family, received the nickname by which she came to be known from her brother, Bladimir. When their mother arrived home, she said to him: "Look at the baby that I bought to play with you." To this, he replied: "I know, it's my Xuxa." The nickname stuck, though it was not until 1988 that she officially became Maria da Graça Xuxa Meneghel.
Xuxa is of Italian descent from the town of Imer, in the Autonomous Province of Trento. Her great-grandfather emigrated to Brazil at the end of the 19th century. In 2013, Xuxa obtained Italian citizenship by descent.
Beginning of fame
Xuxa was discovered by the publishing company, Bloch Editores, and appeared on the cover of one of their magazines, Carinho. At the age of fifteen, she began her career in modeling. In 1980, she made the cover of over 80 magazines, including a nude shoot for the Playboy in the December 1982 issue, which was reissued in Argentina in 1991. At that time, Xuxa was dating the former football player, Pelé, which gave her visibility in the media. In 1984, Xuxa was hired as a model in the United States by Ford Models.
On July 28, 1998, Xuxa gave birth to a daughter, Sasha Meneghel Szafir, with businessman and actor, Luciano Szafir. On the day of her birth, the television news program, Jornal Nacional, highlighted her birth in a ten minute story.
Xuxa lives in a condominium, called Malibu Condo, located in Barra da TijucaRinio de Janeiro. The value of her mansion is estimated at R$15 million. Xuxa also has a ranch in Rio de Janeiro known as "Casa Rosa" with 89 thousand square meters, an apartment in Barra da Tijuca, and a farm in Rio Bonito.
In addition to her residences in the city of Rio de Janeiro, Xuxa has an island in Fortaleza, Ceará, where she usually spends her holidays, an apartment in New York City, and a house in Orlando, Florida, located in the vicinity of Walt Disney World.
In 1987, Xuxa became involved in a children's campaign against polio. Subsequently, more than 90% of Brazil's infant population was vaccinated. Two years into the campaign, the disease was eliminated and Xuxa received a medal of honor from the president of Brazil, José Sarney.
Xuxa has also participated in campaigns against smoking, was a spokesperson for the campaign against breast cancer, and was also the organizer of a public parade of protest in Rio, asking for peace in the city. The growing need to care for young children led her to set up the Xuxa Meneghel Foundation on October 12, 1989.
Xuxa was chosen to represent Brazil on the Live Earth show and became the cause's spokeswoman in Brazil. The show took place in seven countries simultaneously on July 7, 2007, and emphasized the negative effects of climate change.
In March 2008, Xuxa launched the campaign, Uso Responsável da Internet (Responsible Internet Use), at the Providencia ghetto in Rio de Janeiro. The initiative was a partnership with the Xuxa Meneghel Foundation. In the same year, she received a medal of honor at ECO 2008 held in Brasilia, for the social and environmental work carried out by the Xuxa Meneghel Foundation. She also took on the cause to fight against child prostitution. That November, Xuxa received a prize from Prince Albert of Monaco for her work at the Xuxa Meneghel Foundation. This prize is the highest honor awarded to personalities for their work on social issues.
In September 2011, Colombian singer, Shakira, and Xuxa joined forces through their respective charitable foundations to aid children younger than six years old who live in Brazil’s poorest communities. The two artists, together with Brazilian government officials, signed an accord in Rio de Janeiro for a program of cooperation. In its first four years, it plans to provide better access to education to children from 100 schools in Brazil.
Xuxa is the godmother and poster girl of the campaign "Tri-national to Combat Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adolescents" which aims to encourage people to report cases of exploitation and abuse of minors living on the border between Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina. Since May 2013, the campaign has integrated the actions of several groups: the Itaipu Dam, the International Labour Organization (ILO), the Municipal Tourism Council, Childhood and Youth, Ministry of Labor and Employment, and entities of Paraguay and Argentina who work in the same area.
In May 2014, President Dilma Rousseff signed a law that applied stronger penalties to the crime of sexual exploitation of children and adolescents. On June 4, 2014, Xuxa, was present when the Senate of Brazil passed the Lei da Palmada (PLC 58/2014), which had been adopted by the Commission on Human Rights of the Chamber of Deputies. When asked about criticism from some parents about how they will educate their children after the passage of this law, Xuxa said that they can educate, but without violence: "We have to show that people can and should educate without violence". Xuxa said that the project should be treated as Lei Menino Bernardo, not Lei da Palmada.
1983–86: Rede Manchete
In 1983, Xuxa was invited by director, Maurice Sherman, to host Clube da Criança for Rede Manchete. In this period, she worked as a model during the week in New York City and was taping her show during the weekend in Brazil. Her success on Clube da Criança caught the attention of Rede Globo, and they signed an employment contract with her in 1986.
1986–92: Xou da Xuxa
Xou da Xuxa was Xuxa's first program for Rede Globo, premiering on June 30, 1986. The show touched a generation of children and is still remembered by millions of people in Brazil and worldwide. In all, 2000 programs were recorded in Brazil and aired over six years and seven months. In that period, Xuxa received 139 gold, 52 platinum and 10 diamond albums, with sales of 18 million copies.
Her success with the public brought Xuxa a second show at TV Globo in 1989. Bobeou Dançou was broadcast only on Sundays. Another show that ran simultaneously with Xou da Xuxa was called Paradão dos Baixinhos (The Little Ones Charts), which started off as a set piece but became an independent show in 1991. It was broadcast on Saturday mornings. Xou da Xuxa was wound up in 1992, and a new Sunday show, Xuxa, began in 1993. Xuxa had musical attractions, games and Xuxa's backup group, the Paquitas.
1991–93: international career
As early as in the 1980s, Xuxa had international recognition for her work on TV. In 1987, the French newspaper Libération included Xuxa on the list of the most remarkable women in the world.
Between 1991 and 1993, Xuxa became very popular in Latin America. She widened her appeal among Spanish-speaking audiences when she recorded a program in Argentina, El Show de Xuxa. It was popular when broadcast in Chile, Mexico and 16 other Latin American countries, as well as Univision in the United States. The first two seasons of the show, the most popular, were produced by Argentine TV channel Telefé while the third season, in 1993, was produced independently and then sold for broadcast to El Trece. Her last Spanish speaking show aired in Latin America on December 31, 1993.
The New York Times highlighted her success in Brazil and Latin America in a article by correspondent, James Brooke. The publication highlighted the record sales of albums of the singer, which in 1990 reached 12 million copies, and its success in the Hispanic market, where it reached 300,000 copies with their first album in Spanish. At the time, she was considered by New York Magazine the Madonna of Latin American.
Xuxa was recognized by Forbes in 1991 as one of the world's 40 highest-paid entertainers. Her $19 million income accumulated between 1990 and 1991, and put her ahead of actor Mel Gibson, cartoonist Matt Groening ,and rapper Vanilla Ice.
Not only was she successful in America, but in Europe as well. In 1992, taping programs in Brazil and Argentina, Xuxa was invited to hosted the program Xuxa Park, Spain. Released by Telecinco channel, the program was shown on Sundays, with high ratings. The show lasted two years. The theme song of the show, Sabor de la Vida ("Flavor of Life"), had huge success in Spain, being among the 100 most played in the European Hot 100 Singles. Her Xuxa Park album also sold well for 8 weeks and was certified gold. Billboard magazine published in September 1992, that the album Xuxa 2 was at the top of the Spanish charts, and appeared in position 77 of the 100 most sold albums in the world. The biggest hits on this disc were: Loquita Por Ti (#29 on the billboard chart), Luna de Cristal (#35 on the billboard chart) and Chindolele (#10 on the billboard chart). The album reached the fifth position in the U.S. Billboard Top Latin Albums of 1991. In 1992, People Magazine chose Xuxa as one of the 50 most beautiful people in the world.
In 1993, Xuxa hosted an English language series in the United States titled Xuxa. However, it did not achieve the popularity she had enjoyed throughout Brazil, Latin America and Spain, and was cancelled after one season due to low ratings. It was initially broadcast by 124 stations across the country. The shows were produced on Sound Stage 36 at CBS Television City in Los Angeles. 65 episodes were taped for the first season of the show. Taping of the episodes was done in a 5-week period in the summer of 1993. The shows were broadcast Monday through Friday, generally in the early morning or mid-afternoon. All 65 episodes were broadcast during the initial 13 weeks before there was a repeat. Helping Xuxa on the show were the Pixies (three U.S. "Paquitas" plus one Brazilian Paquita), the Mellizas (uncredited), Jelly, Jam, and ten "child wranglers" for 150 kids on the set. Starting September 1994, Xuxa began airing on The Family Channel cable network, at 8:00am ET/PT. They reprised original episodes on a new children's block until February 19, 1996 when Xuxa stopped airing on The Family Channel. The show was sold to a great number of countries throughout the world, including Japan, Israel, Russia, Australia, Romania and some Arab countries. Her international ambitions apparently ended after the grueling taping schedule for her American show. She was hospitalized for several days due to exhaustion, and decided to give up her international career.
1994–2000: weekend shows
In 1994, Xuxa returned to Brazilian TV with the debut of Xuxa Park, which soon became a big hit with younger audiences, now displayed on Saturdays. The following year, Xuxa Hits began to air on Sundays.
Planeta Xuxa, inspired by Xuxa Hits, was launched in April 1997, and became an immediate hit with those who had grown up following Xuxa's career. Initially, Planeta Xuxa was broadcast on Saturday afternoons and Xuxa Park held all the morning air time. Planeta Xuxa was moved to Sundays in 1998, and it stayed on the air until 2002.
In early 2002, the second and final edition of the Planeta Verão was shown. In the same year, Planeta Xuxa ended in July when Xuxa's partnership with director Marlene Mattos ended. In October, the program Xuxa no Mundo da Imaginação (Rede Globo) began, which marked a return to a daily schedule. Unlike other children's programs, this was aimed at children 0–10 years, with more educational content. Due to low ratings, but the program went off the air in 2004.
2005–14: TV Xuxa
The children's show changed its name and target age group in 2005. TV Xuxa, which was still a daily morning show, included games, cartoons, contest, and musical numbers to amuse kids of all ages. In 2008, TV Xuxa was reformulated to appeal to a wider audience and adopted a weekly talk show format that aired on Saturday mornings. The program stopped showing cartoons, and Xuxa began to receive her guests on a stage designed for interviews and musical numbers. On this stage, Xuxa talked with singers Justin Bieber (outside the studio, when he came to the show in Brazil), and Taylor Swift. In 2011, the show was moved to Saturday afternoons by Rede Globo.
The last edition of the program aired on January 25, 2014. Xuxa developed sesamoiditis and had to stop television work. Her problem might have been caused by over-use of high heels in dances and presentations. Rede Globosissued a statement saying that the decision was made in agreement with Xuxa. The last program reached 12 rating points, according to IBOPE data. Xuxa renewed her employment contract with the network for another three years.
|1983–85||Clube da Criança||Monday to Friday||Rede Manchete|
|1986–92||Xou da Xuxa||Monday to Saturday||Rede Globo|
|1992||Paradão da Xuxa||Sunday|
|1993||Programa da Xuxa||Sunday|
|2002–04||Xuxa no Mundo da Imaginação||Monday to Friday|
|2015||Xuxa Meneghel||Monday||Rede Record|
- Telenovelas and series
|Year||Telenovelas / series||Character||Network|
|1982||Elas por Elas||Leda||Rede Globo|
|1993||Sonho Meu||herself / opening theme|
|1998||Torre de Babel||herself|
|2010||Ti Ti Ti||herself|
|2011||Aquele Beijo||opening theme|
|2012||Cheias de Charme||herself|
|2013||Guerra dos Sexos||Teresinha Romano|
|2015||Os Dez Mandamentos||Hebreia||Rede Record|
|1986||Criança Esperança||Rede Globo|
|1987||Natal da Xuxa|
|1991||Xuxa Especial – Fábrica de Ilusões|
|1992||Xuxa Especial – Lar dos Idosos|
|1993||Xuxa Especial – Presentes Mágicos|
|1994||Xuxa Especial – Crer Pra Ver|
|1995||Xuxa Especial – Deu a Louca Na Fantasia|
|1996||Xuxa 10 anos|
|Direito de Ser Feliz|
|Xuxa Especial – Natal Sem Noel|
|1997||A Festa dos Brinquedos|
|Luz da Paz|
|1998||Xuxa 12 Anos com Você|
|Uma Carta Para Deus|
|2000||TV Ano 50|
|2003||Siga Aquela Estrela|
|2004||Xuxa Especial de Natal – Papai Noel Sumiu|
|2005||Xuxa Especial de Natal – Folias de Natal|
|2006||Xuxa 20 anos|
|Xuxa Especial de Natal – Natal Todo Dia|
|2007||Xuxa Especial de Natal – Giramundo|
|2008||Xuxa e as Noviças|
|2009||Natal de Luz da Xuxa|
|2010||Xuxa Especial de Natal|
|2015||Família Record||Rede Record|
|1991–93||El Show de Xuxa||Telefe||Argentina / Latin America / United States|
|1993||Xuxa||The Family Channel||United States / Canada|
|2011–14||Mundo da Xuxa||Globo TV International||Europe / Africa / United States / Japan|
Xuxa's first starring role was in Amor Estranho Amor (English title: Love Strange Love), a controversial 1982, erotic film produced by Anibal Massaini Neto for Cineaste in Brazil. The plot involves an adult man's recollection of a short period in his life in 1937. As a teenager, he visited his mother, the favorite woman of an important politician, in a bordello owned by her, right before key political changes in Brazil. In those hours, he discovers his own sexuality. Although rather tame by today's modern standards, the movie was considered somewhat controversial by some because it contains two brief scenes of sensuality between a libertine character played by Xuxa and the teenager.
Xuxa also starred in a new movie every year. Her first biggest box office hit was in 1988, with Super Xuxa Contra Baixo Astral, which included her hit song Arco-Íris (Rainbow), a hit across Latin America. Her second biggest box-office hit was Lua de Cristal (1991), which had over 5 million viewers and included the single, "Lua de Cristal", the sixth biggest box office success of all time in Brazil and biggest success of the 1990s.
In the summer of 1993, presenter Sergio Malandro, "Lua de Cristal" male lead, and the "Paquitas" and "Paquitos" (Xou da Xuxa dancers) made another movie, this time produced by Xuxa. Sonho de Verão (Summer Dream), a youth-oriented movie, was a moderate hit compared to her other films.
In 1999, she starred in the movie Xuxa Requebra. The movie was a critical success and a commercial hit, becoming the most successful Brazilian movie of the year. She used the same formula for her next movie, Xuxa Postar, which was also very successful but a critical failure.
She starred in Xuxa e os Duendes in 2001, Xuxa e os Duendes 2 in 2002, Xuxa Abracadabra in 2003, and Xuxa e o Mistério da Cidade Perdida in 2004. Her first animated movie Xuxinha e Guto: Contra os Monstros do Espaço was released in 2005 and was not well received by critics. In her 2006 movie, Xuxa Gêmeas, she played twins, one evil and one good. The movie featured the singer Ivete Sangalo and was a "come back" for Xuxa in the cinema. The movie had more than 1 million viewers.
In 2009, Xuxa launched her film Xuxa em O Mistério de Feiurinha, which tells the story of what happens in fairy tales after the "and they all lived happily ever after" ending. The film is an adaptation of Pedro Bandeira's book "O Fantástico Mistério de Feiurinha" that has sold over 2 million copies. The movie's cast included such names as: Sasha, Luciano Szafir and Luciano Huck, Angélica and Hebe Camargo. It had over 1.3 million viewer,s and was also shown in the USA and Angola, where its numbers surpassed James Cameron's Avatar.
|1982||Love Strange Love||Tamara|
|O Trapalhão na Arca de Noé||herself|
|1984||Os Trapalhões e o Mágico de Oróz||Aninha|
|1985||Os Trapalhões no Reino da Fantasia||Irmã Maria|
|1988||Super Xuxa Contra Baixo-Astral||herself|
|1989||A Princesa Xuxa e os Trapalhões||Princesa Sharon|
|1990||Lua de Cristal||Maria da Graça|
|O Mistério de Robin Hood||Tatiana|
|1999||Xuxa Requebra||Nena (Helena)|
|2001||Xuxa e os Duendes||Kira|
|2002||Xuxa e os Duendes 2 – No Caminho das Fadas||Kira|
|2004||Xuxa e o Tesouro da Cidade Perdida||Bárbara / Deusa Blomma|
|2005||Xuxinha e Guto contra os Monstros do Espaço||Xuxinha|
|2006||Xuxa Gêmeas||Elizabeth Dourado / Mel Monthiel (Margareth Dourado)|
|2009||Xuxa em O Mistério de Feiurinha||Cinderella|
Career in music
In 1986, the album Xou da Xuxa, sold over two million copies, breaking the South American record for sales, earning eight platinum awards (granted every 250,000 copies sold). In the following years, Xuxa launched six discs, including Xou da Xuxa 2 and Xou da Xuxa 3, and recorded two LPs with the songs translated into Spanish, which sold 2.4 million copies.
From 1989–96, Xuxa had sold 18 million albums, a record in Latin American music sales. Xuxa recorded about 915 songs, recorded 28 albums that together have sold over 45 million copies, and were awarded 400 gold records in Brazil. The album, Xou da Xuxa 3, had more than 3,216,000 copies sold, making it the best-selling children's album, according to the Guinness Book.
In 2002, Veja magazine named Xuxa the richest artist in Brazil, with an estimated net worth of $250 million. According to the same magazine, Xuxa's earnings were comparable to Hollywood stars like Julia Roberts and Keanu Reeves. She was first in the list of artists with highest sales over the past ten years (1998–2008).
In 2012, the Associação Brasileira dos Produtores de Discos (ABPF) released the list of the best-selling DVDs in the country. According to ABPD, Xuxa had two DVDs among the top ten in 2011, XSPB Volume 1–8 (sixth place) and XSPB 11 (ninth).
Xuxa has one daughter, Sasha, who was born in 1998. Sasha's father is actor Luciano Szafir. Xuxa dated Brazilian soccer legend, Pelé, in the 1980s, and later, Formula 1 legend, Ayrton Senna.
She reported in 2012, that reclusive singer Michael Jackson had once courted her, inviting her to dinner at his Neverland estate and then had a subordinate ask whether she would consider living with Jackson. She recently began a relationship with actor and singer, Junno Andrade.