25 Brazilians to watch


Aécio Neves

He has already been a congressman, governor and senator – all that is missing is president. Neves’ centre-right opposition party, the PSDB, has named him to run against President Dilma Rousseff in the 2014 election. The 52-year-old Neves is the grandson of Tancredo Neves, the first democratically elected president of the new republic after two decades of military rule.

Joaquim Barbosa

Last year Barbosa became the first black president of the Supreme Court, the country’s highest tribunal. The judge, better known as “The Righteous”, came to fame for his relentless prosecution of the Mensalão trial, in which senior members of former President Lula’s Workers’ Party were convicted of ­vote-buying in Congress.

Eduardo Campos

Campos has an impressive record as governor of Pernambuco, a booming northeastern state. Although an ally of Rousseff’s Workers’ Party, he is seen as a potential presidential contender.

Eliana Calmon

A former senior judge, she made a name for herself as head of the National Council of Justice (CNJ), where she ordered a probe into the finances of the country’s judges and court staff. Dubbing the corrupt judges “toga thieves”, in reference to their distinctive robes, she put another dent in the culture of impunity in Brazil.

Aldo Rebelo

This tough communist politician is no stranger to controversy. He pushed through a new forest code in the face of bitter opposition from environmentalists, who argued it was the end of the Amazon. Now, as sports minister, he faces an arguably even stiffer challenge, implementing the World Cup and the Olympics efficiently and on time.


Anderson Silva

Anderson Silva

Known as “The Spider” because of his preference for ju-jitsu fighting on the ground, Silva, 37, has helped to make mixed martial arts almost as popular as football. Live broadcasts of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) middleweight champion’s fights pack out bars throughout the country.


With so many sponsorships, Neymar is close to omnipresent, despite being only 21 years of age. The young star of football team Santos is one of the country’s best hopes when Brazil hosts the World Cup next year. He is also its leading trendsetter in out-there hairstyles.

Sarah Menezes

Sarah Menezes

When she won Brazil’s first female Olympic gold medal in judo in London, she made history. Now Menezes, who had to sneak off to training as a child because her parents did not think judo was appropriate for girls, is one of Brazil’s best hopes for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Maria Silvia Bastos Marques

The buck for a successful Olympics largely stops with Marques, the head of Rio de Janeiro’s Municipal Olympics Company, the body in charge of implementing city projects for the games. Luckily, as the first female president of CSN, a Brazilian steel giant, and a former director of BNDES, the country’s development bank, she seems more than equal to the task.


Vik Muniz

Vik Muniz

He makes art from trash and just about anything else that comes to hand – a process captured in the film Waste Land, winner of the Amnesty International Film Prize and Panorama Audience Award at the Berlin International Film Festival. See his Mona Lisa made from peanut butter.

Romero Britto

His eye-poppingly colourful work – described in The New York Times as “cartoon Cubism” or “Matisse channelling Picasso by way of Hello Kitty” – has adorned Audi cars and Coca-Cola greeting cards. Especially popular in Miami, Britto’s pop art has been exhibited in more than 100 countries.


Thalita Rebouças

A journalist and author, Rebouças writes about the complex world of teenagers in a country with an enormous young population. Rebouças has sold more than a million books in Brazil and other countries.


Isadora Faber

This 13-year-old girl opened a Facebook page on the problems facing her public school in Florianópolis, southern Brazil. In her “Classroom Diary”, Isadora highlights the difficulties facing the struggling state education system, reporting on broken desks, bathrooms without doors, and lack of transparency in school accounts, in the process attracting 500,000 Likes and securing a meeting with the minister of education.


Kleber Mendonça Filho

Journalist, director, screenwriter and film critic, Mendonça Filho’s last movie, O Som ao Redor (Neighbouring Sounds) was about modern life in the northeastern boom town of Recife. It won awards at the Rio Festival, Gramado Festival and International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR).

Fernando Meirelles

Fernando Meirelles

His City of God (Cidade de Deus), about life and death in Rio de Janeiro’s favelas made him world famous but the Oscar nominee did not stop there, moving on to Hollywood with The Constant Gardener, Blindness and, recently, 360.


His innovative blend of hip hop, bossa nova and Afro-funk rock has taken this artist from São Paulo’s favelas around the world. Last year, he toured Europe and the US performing songs from his album Nó Na Orelha (Knot in Your Ear).

Renato Cohen

His frenetic mix of techno, trance, house and disco hypnotises crowds, making him popular throughout Europe, Asia and the US. As someone commented beneath his famous “Pontapé” track on YouTube: “Small underground parties, crowds jumping, strobes flashing, sweat dripping from the ceiling, beats banging … It never gets old!!!”

Carlos Saldanha

Only the stony-hearted can resist Saldanha’s work. The 44-year-old is one of the world’s most respected directors of animated films, behind movies such as Ice Age: The Meltdown, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs and, of course, Rio.

Marcelo Adnet

The 31-year-old comedian first appeared on television in 2009 and has not stopped since. His improvisation has made Adnet the funniest of his generation, winning him his own show. More remarkable is that he avoids the prejudice and sexism still common among Brazilian comedians.


Philipp Povel

One of the co-founders of Dafiti, the biggest online Brazilian fashion store and Latin America’s answer to Asos, which is tapping into the country’s R$23.4bn appetite for online shopping. Backed by Germany’s Rocket Internet, Dafiti also has an investment of $45m from JPMorgan.

Alex Behring

Still in his mid-forties, Brazilian banker Alex Behring has suddenly found himself in the driver’s seat of some of the world’s best-known brands. He is the boss of 3G Capital, the private equity firm that owns Burger King and has joined Warren Buffett to buy Heinz. His billionaire investors, led by Jorge Paulo Lemann, provide the cash but it will be up to Behring to ensure that the $28bn gamble pays off.

Antonio Ermírio de Moraes Neto

Although a member of the family behind the Brazilian industrial conglomerate Votorantim, Moraes Neto is striking out on his own with one of Brazil’s first social capital funds. Vox Capital invests in companies targeting the low-income population with the aim of reducing poverty.

Maria das Graças Foster

Brazil’s second-most-powerful woman, after President Dilma Rousseff, started her career with Petrobras, the national oil company, as an intern 32 years ago. Now chief executive officer, Graças Foster grew up in a tough favela in Rio de Janeiro. She faces the challenge of her career trying to ensure that Brazil’s biggest state-owned company can deliver on its promise to exploit the country’s giant deepwater oil finds.

Gisele Bündchen

Gisele Bündchen

The 32-year-old supermodel is not just a pretty face. Worth an estimated $250m, she has licensed her name to brands such as Grendene, maker of Melissa shoes. Not content to stop there, she launched her own lingerie brand two years ago, Gisele Intimates.

Murilo Ferreira

He speaks softly but carries a big stick. Vale’s new chief executive is determined to refocus Brazil’s largest mining company after the excesses of the commodity “super cycle”, when the company embarked on international adventures, such as an ill-fated investment in Simandou, Guinea. But while investors welcome his emphasis on cost control, he faces challenges convincing them that the listed company is not merely a pawn of government policy.

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