What does a superpower look like in 2023? To break new ground–success perpetuating success–to grow and develop. To be able to share and inspire with a global community. It is in this spellbinding moment and ability that Brazilian actor Bruna Marquezine now finds herself. At the top of the actor’s long list of achievements is a leading role as Jenny Kord in the summer superhero blockbuster, Blue Beetle. Produced by DC Studios and the Safran Company, Marquezine joins a star-studded, Latino-led cast, marking a new chapter in her dynamic 22-year acting career. All the more impressive as Marquezine turned 28 in August and has a prodigious fan base of over 60 million followers across her social media channels.
Although Marquezine believed that one day she would work outside of Brazil, she never dreamed a major American production would be the next step. “I always had a feeling that it could happen, but I grew up listening to people say that it was impossible, that especially if you are from Brazil, you are never going to break through and make it anywhere else,” she says. “It’s something you don’t allow yourself to fully dream because it’s too big–it’s too far from your reality. Now that I’ve signed with UTA and have agents and publicists here, it’s all so surreal.”
But beneath the pomp and circumstance of Hollywood, the actor is well aware of the stakes of translating her craft to a new audience and franchise. Blue Beetle marks Marquezine’s largest project outside of Brazil to date. Her jump from Rio de Janeiro to Los Angeles happened so quickly that Marquezine is only now beginning to be able to reflect on the changes she’s experienced. One of her first reality checks took place on set with Susan Sarandon while filming Blue Beetle.
“I learned so much just by observing Susan,” she recalls. “I remember feeling so insecure around her. On one occasion, when we were almost done filming one of my character’s most important scenes, I felt I needed just one more take and asked the director for one more shot. Right after finishing, Susan told me, ‘Wow, girl, that was great.’ She even came to me afterward to compliment me again. All I could say was ‘Really?’ and then started crying.” For Marquezine, it was a reminder that she is where she is supposed to be at this moment in her career–doing what she loves most. But this perfectly polished résumé hasn’t been without hard work and moments of uncertainty along the way.
Marquezine is dressed in a white t-shirt, black baggy pants, and matching black and white Air Jordan sneakers. She wears her hair loose with laid-back waves. Her smile flashes across the screen as her hands vividly reinforce each of her words. She speaks calmly and measures each word carefully, denoting confidence, but perhaps also because this is one of her first interviews in English. Marquezine has worked hard with two coaches to master an American speech, just as she has worked hard at every step of her career.
Marquezine grew up in Duque de Caxias, on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro. Her mother supported her daughter’s early passion for acting, accompanying her to auditions. Marquezine’s first job was a TV commercial at the age of five. The actor’s dexterity led her to seamlessly transition from one project to another. On set, television directors would ask the camera to zoom in on the tears running down the young girl’s cheeks. Her talent led her to more than twenty television shows and films in Brazil, making her a household name in the country. As she grew older, Marquezine modeled and embarked on countless collaborations with beauty and luxury brands. Flooding her social media and turning her into a fashion icon. But that celebrity status came at a price.
“As a child, I had always enjoyed a great relationship with the press,” she says. “I would talk about my work and that would be enough.” And then at the age of 18, when the character she was playing in the telenovela Salve Jorge required her to wear short hemlines and crop tops, the country’s entertainment media took notice. The scrutiny and life in the public eye intensified during Marquezine’s on-and-off-again relationship with soccer superstar Neymar. “You’re already trying to know yourself at that age,” she says. “And suddenly you have all these people telling you who you are, what you’re doing, what you deserve, and what you are capable of.” The pressure became unbearable. If this was the price to pay to continue acting, then perhaps it just wasn’t worth it. She recalls telling her mother, “It will be fine if I just give up now.”
But Marquezine cares too deeply about acting to just give it all up. The moment she limited herself to speaking only about her art, the harsh voices disappeared. “I’ve learned to keep stuff to myself, to not have to prove myself or to feel bad about what people are saying.” Once she learned how to navigate the press, it was no longer her enemy. She was in control.
One of the most daunting moments in Marquezine’s career would come in 2019, at the age of 24, when she told her agents that she was considering leaving TV Globo, the largest television producer and network in Brazil, who she had signed with at the age of eight. The media giant provided the pinnacle of professional security in an otherwise perilous industry.
Marquezine is not one to make rash decisions, nor to draw them out. She acts on what she believes feels right. After over a decade and a half with Globo, she felt it was time to cut ties. Her agents strongly advised against it, too scared to sever a good relationship with the media giant. “Of course, I didn’t want to hurt my relationship with Globo either,” she says. “They’re family, but I needed to grow. I needed to be in charge and do more for myself, like being able to study or to go on vacation.”
When her agents wouldn’t follow her, Marquezine made the bold decision to end her contract. Her mother was terrified, but Marquezine felt it was the right choice. However, once the pandemic hit Brazil, and the show she was on was canceled, the actor began to have serious questions about her future. “I was really doubting myself,” she says. “The imposter syndrome was hitting hard and I was unhappy.”
It was around this time that DC began looking for a Latina actor for their action film, The Flash. It was Marquezine’s first audition with DC, which she describes as a life-changing experience, especially considering the difficult phase of her career she was facing. “After the audition, I immediately called my agent and cried,” she says. “It didn’t matter if I got the role or not, because I had really prepared and just gave it my all. I was proud of myself in a way I had never been before.” Marquezine ended up in the final two. While the role was ultimately given to Sasha Calle, the experience restored her confidence as an actor.
A few months later, Marquezine received a call from DC to audition for Blue Beetle. She knew that she was on the producer’s radar, and now that the role was within her grasp, she had to prove her talent. “This time, I really wanted to get the part. I had to bring my A game.” The process went fast. Within a few days, she sent her self-tape, had a meeting over Zoom with film director Angel Manuel Soto, and then auditioned via Zoom again. She then flew to Los Angeles to do a chemistry reading and a week later, Soto called to ask if she would take on the role of Jenny. Marquezine posted a tear-filled announcement that she got the part on Instagram, which today, has garnered more than one million views.
“I enjoyed every second of filming this movie,” she says. “It’s something that’s so new to me because we don’t do productions this big or superhero movies in Brazil. I was amazed by it all.” She recalls how much fun it was to film with the other characters inside The Bug, a legendary hovercraft that DC comic fans will appreciate. The production team simulated all the movements and crashes of the ship and even recreated actual explosions on set. “Angel let us have a lot of fun with it,” she laughs.
The original Blue Beetle comic was created by Charles Nicholas Wojtkoski and first appeared in Mystery Men Comics #1 in 1939 for Fox Comics. In this Warner Bros. Pictures film, a special scarab created by alien technology grants Jaime Reyes, a teenager from Texas, superhuman abilities, which he uses to protect his city. Jenny is a new character (created by the screenplay writer, Gareth Dunnet-Alcocer), who works in the philanthropic arm of Kord Industries, and is protective of her father, Ted Kord’s, legacy. Marquezine’s character, who is responsible for bringing Reyes together with the magical scarab, starts as his friend, but their bond eventually blossoms into a relationship.
Marquezine is thrilled to play Jenny because she personally identifies with her resilience and values. “Jenny is someone I’d love to be friends with,” she says. “She is a strong woman and knows what she wants. She is always thinking about others and trying to do everything she can to help. I definitely share this with her.”
Currently, Marquezine is busy working on a new project in Brazil, a rom-com titled O Amor da Minha Vida (Love of My Life). In addition to taking on the lead role, which was written for her, Marquezine is also a producer on the series, which will premiere on Star+ in Brazil next year. After completing the project, Marquezine plans to move to Los Angeles. “I wasn’t crazy about the city. I used to be more into New York,” she confesses. “But now I am beginning to fall in love with LA.” Just as she knew when it was her time to step away from Globo, Marquezine is confident as her next chapter in the City of Angels continues. All eyes are on Bruna.
This interview was completed prior to the 2023 SAG-AFTRA strike.
Photographed by Greg Lotus
Written by Monica Montero Lim
Photo Assistant: Danny Luna