Xuxa (pronounced shoo-shah , Maria da Graça Meneghel, born March 27, 1963, Santa Rosa, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil) is a Brazilian television actress, singer and children's television show host. Her various shows have been broadcast in Portuguese, Spanish, and English languages.
She was one of the biggest celebrities in Brasil and was the biggest idol among kids around Latin America in the late 80s/early 90s.
Xuxa is of German, Austrian, Italian, and Polish descent and was the first Brazilian to appear on Forbes Magazine's list of richest artists in 1991, taking 37th place with an annual gross income of US$19 million. Xuxa has dated Pelé and the late Ayrton Senna, both regarded as important figures in Brazil. Xuxa's personal life has often been very public and sometimes scandalous. She had a daughter, Sasha, on July 28, 1998. Her birth was televised live. Sasha studies at one of Brazil's most expensive schools, the bilingual "Escola Americana do Rio de Janeiro" (EARJ), also known as American School of Rio de Janeiro, with a tuition of about $2,000 a month. Xuxa's maternal habits are often criticized, particularly as she has been very indulgent with Sasha, throwing her lavish parties. One, for instance, involved a rented theme park, which cost around $1,000,000.
Her father Luiz Floriano was a military man, and got stationed in Rio de Janeiro when she was 7. At age 15, she was followed home by a magazine publisher who spotted the pretty blue-eyed blonde in the train and invited her to audition to be a model. A year later, she was on the cover of a Brazilian magazine.
In 1980, Xuxa posed for another magazine with other Brazilian models and the great soccer legend Pelé. The smitten athlete wooed the young model and the two embarked on a six-year romance, which propelled her career forward.
While performing at nightclubs, she graced the centerfold of Playboy magazine's Brazilian edition in December 1982, which led to her being cast in the motion picture Amor Estranho Amor (Love Strange Love, IMDB page) in which she plays a prostitute who seduces a 13 year old boy. Some scenes with underage actors in this movie would not be allowed by current Brazilian laws concerning child pornography. Xuxa reportedly bought the rights for this movie in order to prevent its distribution. She was only 20 when she was given her own variety TV show, 'Clube da Criança' (Children's Club). She was an instant hit: her candor on camera and her way with kids caught the attention of Latin America's Portuguese media giant, Globo TV. In 1985, Globo TV took her as its own.
Show da Xuxa is probably the most famous children's show in Brazil and Latin America. It started in 1986. In the show, aired every weekday morning, Xuxa presented cartoon and games, did interviews and performed some of her songs. The show created a kid show frenzy in Brazil, and until late about 2001, more than 9 years after the ending of XOU DA XUXA, most TV networks had at least one kids show in the XOU DA XUXA-style. Not only in Brazil, but in most of Latin America, XOU DA XUXA-type shows became popular (show with a beautiful host, usually blonde, who presented cartoons as Walt Disney's DuckTales, etc).
The audience of the show was of kids who jumped up and down during the whole show. Kids shook pompons throughout the show, marking of the trademarks of the show. But the biggest trademark was the pink spaceship. Every show Xuxa started getting out of the spaceship and at the end, she would go back to the spaceship (it remains so until today).
Every year she released a new album for kids, the 1988 one 'Xou da Xuxa 3' with her biggest hit 'Ilariê' (who was #1 in the radio in almost every Latin-America country) is her best-selling album selling 3 million copies in Brazil alone. 'Xou da Xuxa 3' is the best-selling album in Brasil history.
Xuxa starred in a new movie every year. They were all big office hits (they are hated by the press and by anyone over 5 years old, but she's the biggest movie star in Brasil and her movies are the biggest B.O. every year) with the Lua de Cristal from 1989 being the most popular one. The theme song for the movie was also a big hit. Her second biggest box office was with Super Xuxa Contra o Baixo Astral, that included her hit song Arco-Íris (Rainbow), a hit across Latin America that was the biggest box office success of all time in Brazil.
Xou da Xuxa ended in 1993 due to Xuxa's desire to invest more time in her international career, which included Spanish and English versions of Xou da Xuxa as well as various shows in the U.S. and Europe, and due to the popular TV Colosso's premiere. During that year, she developed health problems attributed to stress; a typical week consisted of seven hours of taping for a month's worth of shows coupled with flying to Argentina where the Spanish version was taped.
XUXA, the English version of Xou da Xuxa, proved unpopular with U.S. audiences and was cancelled after the first season. The Portuguese and Spanish versions were more than 2 hours in length, while the English version was condensed to 30 minutes. The enthusiasm that the live audiences held was noticeably lacking in the English version.
XUXA PARK was a Spanish gameshow she presented that held good ratings. The theme song of the show, 'Sabor de la Vida' ('Flavor of Life'), was a big hit in Spain, topping the song charts. Her 'Xuxa Park' album also sold well, being certified gold. However, the show was cancelled after TeleCinco decided not to renew the show's contract.
XUXA PARK (Brasil) - The Brazilian Xuxa Park didn't have any relation with the Spanish one. It aired from 1997 to 2000 on Saturday mornings and was a modern version of Xou da Xuxa. It was cancelled after several children were injured in an on-set fire. After the incident Xuxa became depressed and didn't appear in the media for several months.
Xuxa Hits - Intending to target a teenage audience, Xuxa Hits aired just after Xuxa Park on Saturday mornings. The show had musical guests and games and was later moved to Sunday and renamed 'Planeta Xuxa' (Xuxa Planet).
Planeta Xuxa - The show was a big hit and was shown on Sunday afternoons with musical guests. It ran concurrently with Xuxa Park. The most popular segment was 'Intimacy' where Xuxa interviewed a celebrity about their sexual habits. The show went on hiatus after the fire on Xuxa Park; it came back and was later canceled due to Xuxa's desire to work with children once more.
Xuxa no Mundo da Imaginação (Xuxa in the World of Imagination) - Xuxa no Mundo da Imaginação arose from Xuxa's desire to return to produce children's programming. The show premiered in 2002 and aired weekday mornings. It was the lowest-rated Xuxa show, highlighting the Globo morning block's ratings loss to the SBT morning block for the first time in years.
TV Xuxa - Xuxa repackaged 'Mundo da Imaginação' as TV Xuxa in an attempt to boost its ratings. In this show, presented on weekday mornings, she did segments on nature, internet and art, but the main segment was the game `Battle of the Titans'. The show also included a "Day's topic" which was explored and explained by Xuxa. During the show, she also presented cartoons. After a few seasons, the show was remodeled and came back wiith new segments, games and cartoons, but remained much the same as the old show.
Reinvented as a children's entertainer, Xuxa began the Xuxa Só para Baixinhos (Xuxa Just for Kids) series, releasing CDs and a videotape with song clips. She also began her first tour since the end of her Xou da Xuxa show, and won two Grammy awards.
In 2001 Xuxa began a new children's show, Xuxa No Mundo da Imaginação (Xuxa at the World of Imagination), a show for preschool children on weekday mornings. The show was initially successful, but following a dispute between Xuxa and her manager, Marlene Matos, ratings for the show began to decline, resulting in the show being pulled from air in 2004. Xuxa, however, being one of the most popular Brazilian TV personalities at the time, was kept on and a new show, TV Xuxa was launched, containing more educational content and cartoons, and less of Xuxa than previous shows.
In "Xou da Xuxa", she consistently wore saucy clothing, showing her belly, legs, and even parts of her buttocks, and in her first LP (also targeted at children), she revealed her breasts on the cover by wearing a translucent shirt. That wasn't very scandalous for Latin America and Europe, but she wore more conservative clothes to the american version of the show.
Xuxa is also an actress and, together with comedy group Os Trapalhões, she has starred in the nine biggest box office hits in Brazilian history. Her first movies were the pornographic "Aluga-se Moças," "Fuscão Preto," and the erotic "Amor, Estranho Amor," all from 1982. In 1989 she starred for the first time in a movie with the comedy group Os Trapalhões in A Princesa Xuxa e Os Trapalhões (Princess Xuxa and The Messed-Up Guys), which was another hit.
The following year, she starred in two movies: Xuxa e os Trapalhões em 'O Mistério de Robin Hood' (Xuxa and The Messed-Up Guys in 'The Mystery of Robin Hood') and Lua de Cristal (Crystal Moon). The second was her biggest box office hit, spawning her hit single 'Lua de Cristal'.
In 1999 Xuxa appeared in Xuxa Requebra (Xuxa in Shake It), a movie that targeted the teen demoraphic. It twas a critical flop but a commercial success. The following year, a movie in the same style (no story line, lots of advertisements, lots of popular actors/groups/singers making cameos) was made, called Xuxa Popstar.
In 2001, she made her first children's movie in twelve years, Xuxa e os Duendes. A fantasy movie, it not only had many cameos, but also a story line and no advertisements--a first for Xuxa's movie. The movie was a hit and a sequel was made for the following year.
In 2003 she made another fantasy movie, Xuxa em Abracadabra, followed by Xuxa e o Tesouro da Cidade Perdida (Xuxa and the Treasure of the Lost City) in 2004. As of 2005, Xuxa is about to release her first animated movie.
Her next film is named "Gemeas (Twins)," which will mark the first time that Xuxa will play a villain. The movie will be launch in January of 2007.
In the 90s, Xuxa became very popular in the whole of Latin America, widening her appeal among Spanish-speaking audiences, when she recorded a programme in Argentina, Show de Xuxa, which was also popular when broadcast in Chile, Mexico and other 16 Latin American countries. She also recorded a programme in Spain in 1992, Xuxa Park, which achieved a huge success.
In 1993 Xuxa hosted an English language series in the United States, "Xuxa", but it did not achieve the popularity Xuxa had enjoyed throughout Latin America and Spain. Xuxa did not master the English language, which was her greatest barrier to success. However, the show was sold in many countries throughout the world, among them Japan, Israel, Russia and some Arab countries. Many parents were taken aback by her seemingly open displays of sexuality and lack of modest clothing as well as her practice of putting on bright red lipstick and kissing the cheeks of prepubescent males at the end of each show. Also in 1993, she taped "Xuxa Park" in Spain. The theme song of the show spent 8 weeks on the top of the charts and her CD charted gold. Her international ambitions ended after she taped 22 episodes of her American show in a month. After she was hospitalized for several days due to exhaustion, she decided to give up her international career.