Last week, I asked for some suggestions of women of color in science fiction and fantasy films. This week, I wanted to highlight an actress who isn’t usually thought of as a science-fiction/fantasy actress in the way that someone like Gina Torres may be, but who has been quietly carving herself a little niche in the genres for the last decade: Alice Braga.
For those of you unfamiliar with Alice Braga, she is a Brazilian actress who gained critical attention with 2002’s City of God. However, in the past decade, she’s starred in several sci-fi films that should make her a bigger fan favorite.
While she held some supporting roles in the film adaptation of Jose Saramago’s Blindness (which I honestly don’t remember watching, which might be saying something about the movie), and the cult-favorite Repo-Men, it’s her supporting roles in some blockbuster sci-fi films that should make her a bigger star.
She’s held roles in box-office hits like I Am Legend. Seriously, that movie had a cast of about three people, but audiences remember the dog more than Alice Braga’s character. I didn’t remember she had a name until I IMDb-ed it.
2010’s Predators had Braga as the only lady action hero versus the likes of Adrien Brody and Topher Grace (you know, those huge action stars). Braga definitely falls into the lethal waif badass territory that Hollywood loves, and I’m wondering why Joss Whedon hasn’t snatched her up yet. She just looks so effortlessly cool.
Braga is also on screens now, playing second fiddle to and childhood friend of Matt Damon’s lead character in Elysium. Much like her role in I Am Legend, a significant chunk of her character development is devoted to her care of a child, but Braga is at least able to make these fairly traditional roles for women somewhat interesting. In Elysium, she’s at least given the additional characterization of being a competent nurse who feels compelled to help people, even with the oppressive governmental regime imposing immense class disparities.
Props to Alice Braga, for quietly filling some fairly thankless roles in science-fiction movies and making them feel real and nuanced, despite generally underdeveloped writing. Maybe next time she gets cast, she’ll have more to do than help the lead on their journey.