Moving: From Brazil to Canada, from modelling to set dressing

Alessandra Faria came from Sao Paulo, Brazil to Hamilton looking for a better life for her daughter in 2012. What she didn’t know is what she’d end up doing.

Back in Brazil, Faria had been a model for 10 years before she moved to Canada. She was successful. Her life consisted of parties, runways, photo shoots and trips to the beach.

Alessandra Faria modelling for Skin Tattoo Magazine in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Photo: Skin Tattoo Magazine

Faria met her husband 15 years ago while he was working in the industry. He’s Canadian and would travel often between the two countries.

“We started to get together, and then he’d spend six months in Canada and six months in Brazil,” says Faria.

“And then one day I got pregnant,” she adds with a shrug and a smile.

After Faria and her husband had their daughter, he would still travel back and forth between Canada and Brazil for work. Faria says the decision to move was a quick one.

“One day he was in Canada and he just called me and said, ‘Come to Canada,’” she says.

So they did. Faria sold everything she had in Brazil, and on Jan. 23, 2012, she arrived in Canada. Her daughter was five years old at the time, and neither of them knew any English.

Starting a new life is no easy task for anyone, and Faria’s case was no exception. A new life was waiting for her in this strange, foreign country. However, before she could start fresh, she had to care for her daughter.

Faria and her husband worked hard to make sure their five-year-old could get comfortable in her new country. After their daughter started getting used to their new life, Faria decided it was time to start learning English.

She started out in level two at a language centre in Jackson Square. Faria worked her way up the ESL ladder, and two years later she made it to level five. After that, she wasted no time and went directly to the Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) program at Mohawk College. She spent one semester there, and she says that as soon as she got the minimum requirements to apply for a post-secondary program, she did.

“I didn’t have any degrees [in Brazil] because as a model you don’t have to go to university or college,” she says. “I worked as a freelancer, and that’s it.”

However, by the time Faria finished her English studies, she had already lost interest in modelling. Faria says that even if she wanted to continue to work as a model, she would have had to go to Toronto, and even then, as a “mature woman” there’s no guarantee of work.

Despite her lack of interest in being in front of the camera, she didn’t give up.

Faria decided to continue to contribute to the film and television industry by applying to the Television and Communications Media program at Mohawk College.

“I worked as a model and I love this industry,” she says. “I love this.”

Alessandra Faria working on an ENG for one of her courses. Photo: Alessandra Faria

Faria says that even though she loves the program, there’s no one thing she wants to do once she graduates, she wants to do everything.

“I want to work as a freelancer because every day is a different day,” Faria says.

She has a special interest in set dressing because she says it allows her to use her imagination and transform a simple set into anything, even change a whole building.

“And at the same time, everything is fake,” she says. “It’s amazing what we can do.”

Faria misses Brazil occasionally, but when she visits now she says it’s not the same.

“When I go to visit, the first month is okay,” says Faria, “but after, I say, ‘This is not my place, I don’t have a bed here, I don’t have clothes, I don’t have anything.’”

She says she’s happy with her Canadian life. The politeness and respect of Canadians, as well as the diversity of those who live here, are some of the things that made her appreciate the country.

But Faria says one thing is for sure: she will never get used to the cold.

About the author  ⁄ Aura Carreño

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