Brazilian Megastar Anitta Dishes on Self-Expression and Self-Acceptance

By Patricia Tortolani | October 1, 2019 | People Feature Covers

Some call her the Madonna of Brazil. Others refer to her as the Madonna of our generation. But here’s the most fascinating thing about this trilingual, business-savvy superstar: even Madonna is fascinated by Anitta.

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The Drop denim jacket, price upon request, by Alessandra Gold & KHASAMARINA at khasamarina.com; vintage boots, price upon request, at Pinkgun Gallery, 786.542.5386; hat and bodysuit, both stylist’s own.

Anitta arrives on set for her Ocean Drive cover shoot and is whooping and hollering and Boomeranging on the mechanical bull set up in the middle of the studio before we can break the news that our friend will not be mechanized today. There is not a big enough insurance policy in the world for us to risk that famously gyrating booty. A look of defeat briefly crosses Anitta’s face—and then the Brazilian superstar is back in the saddle yelling toward no one in particular to make sure there is a mechanized mechanical bull at her festa junina party in the coming weeks. (Videos from the bash reveal that her wish/command was granted. No surprise.) In her own words, “I make it happen. It may be tomorrow or in two hours.”

As a young girl in Rio de Janeiro’s working-class Honório Gurgel neighborhood, what Larissa de Macedo Machado wanted was to be an artist. In 2010 she posted a music video on YouTube where, dressed in a striped minidress, she sang into a deodorant stick. The gag landed her an audition with a local record label that specialized in funk carioca, the bass-thumping, ass-bumping music of Rio’s favelas. From then on Larissa became known as Anitta. And the rest is history—a history best told in numbers: Anitta’s music videos have been viewed 3 billion times; she has over 40 million followers on Instagram; in 2017 she was named Billboard’s 15th most influential artist in the world in social networks, ahead of Lady Gaga and Rihanna. “Anitta is a risk taker and creative genius,” says Sam Shahidi, co-founder of Shots Studios and co-executive producer on Vai Anitta, a Netflix original docu-series about her rise. ”She is a BOSS.” She is also Brazil’s biggest pop export. But if you ask Anitta about her success, she’ll tell you that this is only the beginning.

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Indiana bead embroidery denim jacket, $2,265, by Alchemist at Saks Fifth Avenue, Bal Harbour Shops; Carson 6X cowboy hat, $245, at Stetson, stetson.com.

Hello, Anitta! You‘ve been on a pretty epic adventure since we last saw you at our shoot in Miami. Where are you now?
Yes, I’ve been doing a lot of shows. I had some moments with my family because they restart my energy and everything. But yeah, I’ve been working a lot and I’m super happy about that. I was in Tomorrowland in Belgium. I did shows in Italy, Spain, Portugal, Los Angeles, Zurich. Everything was super packed, super full. I’m starting to reach other audiences of other countries. Latin people, English speakers. It was a very good trip. Now I’m home in Rio.

The fact that you’ve taken funk music—often called the reggaeton of Brazil—from the favelas of Rio to major music festivals in Europe is pretty amazing.
When I started in the favelas, I realized that funk is such an amazing rhythm, an amazing way to dance, an amazing energy. My goal was to get it out of favelas, to the whole city. And then when I did that, I wanted to get it to the whole country. And now I want to get it to other countries.

Collaborations have played a big role in your global strategy. You’ve recorded with J Balvin, Alesso, Rita Ora… and my personal favorite, Snoop Dogg.
He is the best person eeeevvvvvver. There is nobody better than Snoop. For all the things I’ve done in my life, everyone I’ve worked with, the thing I am most honored in my life is to have sung with him. He is so funny, he is so humble, he is so cute. He is amazing. I love him. When I met him, I told him exactly this: Funk for Brazil is how hip-hop was in the ’90s for the U.S. Hip-hop had a lot of prejudice because of the place that it came from. And now the artists are really respected and loved all over the word. I think that is happening with funk. And I’m really happy with that.

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Balmain Paris logo bodysuit, $1,350, by Balmain at Saks Fifth Avenue, Bal Harbour Shops; Carson 6X cowboy hat, $245, at Stetson, stetson.com; chaps and boots, both stylist’s own.

You are also featured on Madonna’s new album, Madame X.
It was amazing. What happened was we have a friend in common. And this friend sent my work to her and she really liked it. And she really liked that we matched in our way of positioning our work. She invited me for her album, which was an amazing experience to be with her and hang with her and watch the way she worked. To watch how it is to be such a legend, respected and famous all over the world.

Besides making great music, there are unmistakable parallels there. You and Madonna are both pop provocateurs.
To me Madonna represents liberty. She has this message of being whoever you want to be, of being free. This is a very important thing about her. And I think that if nowadays I am free to work my sexual side, to be sensual and to express myself sexually the way I want, it’s because Madonna did. She had a lot of rocks on her face because she did it at a time when everyone was criticizing this kind of behavior. I admire what she did a lot.

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Tinsel Tropic dress, price upon request, at KHASAMARINA, khasamarina.com; vintage boots, price upon request, at Pinkgun Gallery, 786.542.5386.

You’re unapologetic about having plastic surgery. The things some people hide, you are very vocal about.
Everyone likes to say ‘accept yourself.’ Yes, I accept myself. Yes, I love myself. But I also love changing. Why would I hide these kind of things? Life is about choices—what you do, how you run your life. I like to be honest. It’s important to be honest because people understand that I am a regular person like them. And then what I cannot get done, for example, my cellulite, I just accept. Because there is no surgery for that. I don’t like working out and I accept that. But if they create a surgery for cellulite, I am going to be the first one to do the test, trust me.

“To me Madonna represents liberty. She has this message of being whoever you want to be, of being free. That is very important. I am free to work my sensual side and to express myself sexually the way I want because of what she did.”

What are some causes that you champion?
Right now for me there is nothing more important than the environment. There is no other cause that can be supported if you don’t have the environment and the nature issue sorted. I am super down to risk whatever I have if it’s with the goal to make people open their eyes to the reality. I don’t care about risking this if it makes people open their eyes a little bit more.

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Ostrich feather minidress, $4,569, by Attico at Saks Fifth Avenue, Bal Harbour Shops; handcuffs, stylist’s own.

What’s next for you? I heard you were in the studio with Cardi B recently.
I love Cardi B. She is really into Brazilian music, so definitely there is something coming. And I’ve been working on the second season of my Netflix show because the first one is such a success. And new tracks in Spanish, English and Portuguese. I am really excited about what’s next. But I also want to chill out and rest a little bit because that is as important as any work.

Will you be spending more time in Miami?
If I ever live in a place that isn’t Rio, it would be Miami. It has the mix of the Brazilian vibe, the Latin vibe and the American vibe, which I think is the perfect world. The weather is amazing, the beaches are amazing, but you also have the very American professional and responsible way of being. Miami is a mix of all these things and I love it.



Photography by: PHOTOGRAPHED BY RIOCAM; STYLED BY DANNY SANTIAGO; Hair by Danny Jelaca; Makeup by Samuel Rauda; Shot on location at the Kimpton EPIC Hotel