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Xuxa Meneghel
Born Maria da Graça Meneghel
(1963-03-27) 27 March 1963 (age 54)
Santa Rosa, Brazil
Residence Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Nationality Brazilian, Italian[1]
Other names
  • Rainha dos baixinhos
Occupation TV host, actress, singer, businesswoman
Organization Xuxa International Corporation
Xuxa Produções
Net worth US$1 billion (2016) [2]
Television Globo
Globo International
Rede Record
Partner(s) Pelé (1981–86)
Ayrton Senna (1988–90)
Luciano Szafir (1998–2009)
Junno Andrade (2012–present)
Children Sasha Meneghel Szafir (born 1998)
Website www.xuxa.com
Musical career
  • Vocals

Maria da Graça Meneghel (Portuguese: [maˈɾia da ˈgɾasa ˈʃuʃa mẽneˈgɛw]; born 27 March 1963), commonly known as Xuxa (English: /ˈʃʃə/ SHOO-shə; Portuguese: [ˈʃuʃɐ]), is a Brazilian television presenter, film actress, singer, and businesswoman. Her various shows have been broadcast in Portuguese, English, and Spanish worldwide. She is a two-time winner of the Latin Grammy award for Best Children's Album, and is also known for her epithet, "Queen of the Shorties".

Xuxa began her television career with the Clube das Crianças on Rede Manchete in the early 1980s. She became a national superstar when she moved to Rede Globo in 1986 for the Xou da Xuxa. She 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.[3][4][5][6][7][8][9]

Over her 30-year career, Xuxa Meneghel has sold over 50 million copies of her records worldwide, which makes her the second-highest selling Brazilian female singer after Rita Lee. Her net worth was estimated at US$100 million in the early 1990s.[10] As of 2015, she continues to be among Brazil's most prominent celebrities. Also successful as a businesswoman, she has the highest net worth of any Brazilian female entertainer, estimated at US$1 billion.[11][12][13][14][2][15][16]


Early life[edit]

Maria da Graça Meneghel was born in Santa Rosa, Rio Grande do Sul. During her birth, Meneghel's father, Luiz Floriano Meneghel, was told that both mother and child were at risk. He opted to save his wife, Alda Meneghel (née Alda Flores da Rocha), and prayed to St. Mary of Graces, promising to name his daughter after the Virgin if all went well.[17][18]

Although she was originally named after Saint Mary of Graces, Xuxa, the youngest member of the Meneghel family, received the nickname by which she came to be known from her brother, Bladimir. When their mother arrived home, she said to him: "Look at the baby that I bought to play with you." To this, he replied: "I know, it's my Xuxa."[19] The nickname stuck, though it was not until 1988 that she officially became Maria da Graça Xuxa Meneghel.[20]

Xuxa is of Italian descent from the town of Imer, in the Autonomous Province of Trento.[21] Her great-grandfather emigrated to Brazil at the end of the 19th century. In 2013, Xuxa obtained Italian citizenship by descent.[22]

Xuxa spent her early years in Santa Rosa. When she was seven, she and her family moved to Rio de Janeiro where they lived in the Bento Ribeiro neighborhood.[23]

At 15 years, she was discovered by a modeling agency and began her professional career as a model at 16. During this time period Xuxa continued to model in Brazil and the United States for both fashion and men's magazines, such as Playboy, and began a famous love affair with Brazilian football star Pelé.[24] In 1984, she was hired as a model by Ford Models.[25]

Television career[edit]

1983–86: Rede Manchete[edit]

Established as national beauty and sex symbol, Xuxa got the chance to move toward a career in television through an offer to host a small regional children's program, Clube da Criança for Rede Manchete. In this period, she worked as a model during the week in New York City and was taping her show during the weekend in Brazil. In 1986 this opportunity was expanded when she received an offer to host a national children's program through the multimedia conglomerate Globo.[23]

1986–92: Xou da Xuxa[edit]

The children's program, Xou da Xuxa, was massively successful and watched by a whole generation of Brazilian children.[26]

Since the Xou's debut in Brazil, Xuxa has enjoyed unprecedented following.[27][28] In Brazil alone, her program has achieved an estimated viewership of 33 million, the largest audience ever garnered by TV Globo, the dominant television network in that country.[29] Those kids who tuned in every weekday saw Xuxa arrived for each episode in a pink spaceship. The show had singing, dancing, skits, games, and jokes, and the actress would end the show with the famous "Xuxa kiss." For the kiss, Xuxa would put on bright lipstick and kiss the children participating in the show and children in the audience on the cheek, leaving the imprimit of her lipstick. The Xou da Xuxa stopped filming in 1992 but was followed by a program that only ran on Sunday called, simply, Xuxa. In all, 2,000 episode were recorded in Brazil and aired over six years and seven months.[30] The immense popularity of the original Xou da Xuxa lead to a series of others children's television programs starring the actress. In 1991, a purely musical program called the Paradão dos Baixinhos (The Little Ones Charts) premiered and ran concurrently with the Xou.[31]

The Spanish-language version of this show was produced in Argentina, and broadcast via satellite across North and South America. Since it was launched on Univision on 9 August 1991, El Show de Xuxa became a phenomenal success, continuing the pattern it established in it place of origin-Brazil.[32]

1991–93: International career[edit]

As early as in the 1980s, Xuxa had international recognition for her work on TV. In 1987, the French newspaper Libération included Xuxa on the list of the most remarkable women in the world.

After reaching success with her record sales in Brazil, Xuxa released her first Spanish-language album, Xuxa 1, which performed well in the Latin American market.

Xuxa widened her appeal among Spanish-speaking audiences when she recorded a program in Argentina, called El Show de Xuxa. The Los Angeles Times reported in 1992 that "more than 20 million Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking children watched El Show de Xuxa in 16 countries of Latin America every day, as well as Univision in the United States. The first two seasons of the show, the most popular, were produced by Argentine TV channel Telefé while the third season, in 1993, was produced independently and then sold for broadcast to El Trece. Her last Spanish speaking show aired in Latin America on 31 December 1993.[33][34][35][36]

The New York Times highlighted her success in Brazil and Latin America in an article by correspondent, James Brooke.[37] The publication highlighted the record sales of albums of the singer, which in 1990 reached 12 million copies, and its success in the Hispanic market, where it reached 300,000 copies with their first album in Spanish. At the time, she was called by New York Magazine as "Latin American Madonna".[38] In 1992, the Los Angeles Times said that Xuxa was "probably better known to most Latin American pre-adolescents than Michael Jackson."[39]

Xuxa was recognized by Forbes in 1991 as one of the world's 40 highest-paid entertainers. Her $19 million income accumulated between 1990 and 1991, and put her ahead of actor Mel Gibson, cartoonist Matt Groening, and rapper Vanilla Ice.[40][41][42]

Not only was she successful in America, but in Europe as well. In 1992, taping programs in Brazil and Argentina, Xuxa was invited to hosted the program Xuxa Park, in Spain. Released by Telecinco channel, the game show was shown on Sundays, with high ratings. The show lasted two years. The theme song of the show, Sabor de la Vida, had huge success in Spain, being among the 100 most played in the European Hot 100 Singles.[when?] Her Xuxa Park album also sold well for 8 weeks and was certified gold.[43][44][45][46][47] Billboard magazine published in September 1992, that the album Xuxa 2 was at the top of the Spanish charts, and appeared in position 77 of the 100 most sold albums in the world. The biggest hits on this disc were: Loquita Por Ti (#29 on the billboard chart), Luna de Cristal (#35 on the billboard chart) and Chindolele (#10 on the billboard chart). The album reached the fifth position in the U.S. Billboard Top Latin Albums of 1991.[48] In 1992, People Magazine chose Xuxa as one of the 50 most beautiful people in the world.[49]

In 1993, Xuxa hosted an English language series in the United States titled Xuxa. However, it did not achieve the popularity she had enjoyed throughout Brazil, Latin America and Spain, and was cancelled after one season due to low ratings. It was initially broadcast by 124 stations across the country. The shows were produced on Sound Stage 36 at CBS Television City in Los Angeles. 65 episodes were taped for the first season of the show. Taping of the episodes was done in a 5-week period in the summer of 1993. The shows were broadcast Monday through Friday, generally in the early morning or mid-afternoon. All 65 episodes were broadcast during the initial 13 weeks before there was a repeat. Helping Xuxa on the show were the Pixies (three U.S. "Paquitas" plus one Brazilian Paquita), the Mellizas (uncredited), Jelly, Jam, and ten "child wranglers" for 150 kids on the set. Starting September 1994, Xuxa began airing on The Family Channel cable network, at 8:00am ET/PT. They reprised original episodes on a new children's block until February 19, 1996 when Xuxa stopped airing on The Family Channel.[50][51][52][53][54] The show was sold to a great number of countries throughout the world, including Japan, Israel, Russia, Australia, Romania and some Arab countries.[55] Her international ambitions apparently ended after the grueling taping schedule for her American show. She was hospitalized for several days due to exhaustion, and decided to give up her international career.[56][57][58][59][60][61]

In the U.S., Sony Wonder has released two of her videos and a record that includes English translations of some of her most successful songs in Portuguese and Spanish.[62]

1994–2000: Weekend shows[edit]

In 1994, Xuxa returned to Brazilian TV with the debut of Xuxa Park, which soon became a big hit with younger audiences, now displayed on Saturdays. The following year, Xuxa Hits began to air on Sundays.[63]

Inspired by Xuxa Hits, the Planeta Xuxa was created, which premiered on 5 April 1997, and became an immediate hit with those who had grown up following Xuxa's career. Initially, Planeta Xuxa was broadcast on Saturday afternoons and Xuxa Park held all the morning air time. Planeta Xuxa was moved to Sundays in 1998, and it stayed on the air until 2002.[64]

2001–04: Xuxa no Mundo da Imaginação[edit]

On 11 January 2001, a fire destroyed the entire set of Xuxa Park program, leaving 26 people injured with burns. Xuxa was unharmed, but the programme was removed from the Globo TV programme schedule.[65]

In early 2002, the second and final edition of the Planeta Verão was shown. In the same year, Planeta Xuxa ended in July when Xuxa's partnership with director Marlene Mattos ended. In October, the television program Xuxa no Mundo da Imaginação premiered in Globo and marked a return to a daily schedule. Unlike other children's programs, this was aimed at children 0–10 years, with more educational content. Due to low ratings, but the program went off the air in 2004.[66]

2005–14: TV Xuxa[edit]

The children's show changed its name and target age group in 2005. TV Xuxa, which was still a daily morning show, included games, cartoons, contest, and musical numbers to amuse kids of all ages. In 2008, TV Xuxa was reformulated to appeal to a wider audience and adopted a weekly talk show format that aired on Saturday mornings. The program stopped showing cartoons, and Xuxa began to receive her guests on a stage designed for interviews and musical numbers. On this stage, Xuxa talked with singers Justin Bieber (outside the studio, when he came to the show in Brazil), and Taylor Swift.[67][68][69] In 2011, the show was moved to Saturday afternoons by Rede Globo.[70]

The last edition of the program aired on 25 January 2014. Xuxa developed sesamoiditis and had to stop television work. Her problem might have been caused by over-use of high heels in dances and presentations. Rede Globo issued a statement saying that the decision was made in agreement with Xuxa.[71][72] The last episode reached 12 rating points, according to IBOPE data. Xuxa renewed her employment contract with the network for another three years.[73]


After two years off the TV, Xuxa signed a contract with the Rede Record on March 5, 2015, and announced that her program would be inspired by U.S. television personality, Ellen DeGeneres.[74] On August 17, 2015, she starred in a TV show of the same name that was aired on Monday nights on RecordTV. Originally the Xuxa Meneghel would win a new season in 2017, however the network television and Xuxa decided to finalize it to be able to focus in a new project, the Dancing Brasil, a Brazilian dance competition television series based on the American version Dancing with the Stars, produced by Endemol Shine in partnership with BBC Worldwide, and aired on RecordTV.[75]


Career in music[edit]

In 1986, the album Xou da Xuxa, sold over two million copies, breaking the South American record for sales, earning eight platinum awards (granted every 250,000 copies sold).[76] In the following years, Xuxa launched six discs, including Xou da Xuxa 2 and Xou da Xuxa 3, and recorded two LPs with the songs translated into Spanish, which sold 2.4 million copies.[77]

From 1989–96, Xuxa had sold 18 million albums, a record in Latin American music sales. Xuxa recorded about 915 songs, recorded 28 albums that together have sold over 45 million copies, and were awarded 400 gold records in Brazil. The album, Xou da Xuxa 3, had more than 3,216,000 copies sold, making it the best-selling children's album, according to the Guinness Book.[78]

In 2002, Veja magazine named Xuxa the richest artist in Brazil, with an estimated net worth of $250 million. According to the same magazine, Xuxa's earnings were comparable to Hollywood stars like Julia Roberts and Keanu Reeves. She was first in the list of artists with highest sales over the past ten years (1998–2008).[citation needed]

The music video, Xuxa só para Baixinhos sold over eight million copies, and won five nominations and two Latin Grammy awards for "Best Children's Album".

In 2012, the Associação Brasileira dos Produtores de Discos (ABPF) released the list of the best-selling DVDs in the country. According to ABPD, Xuxa had two DVDs among the top ten in 2011, XSPB Volume 1–8 (sixth place) and XSPB 11 (ninth).[79]



Social activism[edit]

Xuxa with then Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in Brasília in 2007.
Xuxa with President Dilma Rousseff at the Palácio do Planalto in 2014.

In 1987, Xuxa became involved in a children's campaign against polio. Subsequently, more than 90% of Brazil's infant population was vaccinated. Two years into the campaign, the disease was eliminated and Xuxa received a medal of honor from the president of Brazil, José Sarney.[80]

Xuxa has also participated in campaigns against smoking, was a spokesperson for the campaign against breast cancer, and was also the organizer of a public parade of protest in Rio, asking for peace in the city. The growing need to care for young children led her to set up the Xuxa Meneghel Foundation on October 12, 1989.[81]

Xuxa met with President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in June 2007, to launch (in Brasilia) a nationwide campaign called Não Bata, Eduque! (Don’t spank, Educate!).[82]

Xuxa was chosen to represent Brazil on the Live Earth show and became the cause's spokeswoman in Brazil. The show took place in seven countries simultaneously on July 7, 2007, and emphasized the negative effects of climate change.[83]

Queen Silvia of Sweden, and Xuxa, participate of seminar about Violence against children in Brasília.
Students of the Xuxa Meneghel Foundation during Rio+20.

In March 2008, Xuxa launched the campaign, Uso Responsável da Internet (Responsible Internet Use), at the Providencia ghetto in Rio de Janeiro. The initiative was a partnership with the Xuxa Meneghel Foundation. In the same year, she received a medal of honor at ECO 2008 held in Brasilia, for the social and environmental work carried out by the Xuxa Meneghel Foundation. She also took on the cause to fight against child prostitution. That November, Xuxa received a prize from Prince Albert of Monaco for her work at the Xuxa Meneghel Foundation. This prize is the highest honor awarded to personalities for their work on social issues.[84]

In August 2010, Xuxa was invited by the president of SESI, Jair Meneguelli, to be godmother to a nationwide campaign combating child prostitution called Carinho de Verdade.[85][86][87]

In September 2011, Colombian singer, Shakira, and Xuxa joined forces through their respective charitable foundations to aid children younger than six years old who live in Brazil’s poorest communities. The two artists, together with Brazilian government officials, signed an accord in Rio de Janeiro for a program of cooperation. In its first four years, it plans to provide better access to education to children from 100 schools in Brazil.[88][89][90]

Xuxa is the godmother and poster girl of the campaign "Tri-national to Combat Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adolescents" which aims to encourage people to report cases of exploitation and abuse of minors living on the border between Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina. Since May 2013, the campaign has integrated the actions of several groups: the Itaipu Dam, the International Labour Organization (ILO), the Municipal Tourism Council, Childhood and Youth, Ministry of Labor and Employment, and entities of Paraguay and Argentina who work in the same area.[91]

In May 2014, President Dilma Rousseff signed a law that applied stronger penalties to the crime of sexual exploitation of children and adolescents.[92] On June 4, 2014, Xuxa was present when the Senate of Brazil passed the Lei da Palmada (PLC 58/2014), which had been adopted by the Commission on Human Rights of the Chamber of Deputies. When asked about criticism from some parents about how they will educate their children after the passage of this law, Xuxa said that they can educate, but without violence: "We have to show that people can and should educate without violence". Xuxa said that the project should be treated as Lei Menino Bernardo, not Lei da Palmada.[93]Lei Menino Bernardo, Lei da Palmada[clarification needed]

Personal life[edit]

Xuxa has one daughter, Sasha, who was born in 1998. Sasha's father is actor Luciano Szafir.[94][95] Xuxa dated Brazilian soccer legend, Pelé, in the 1980s, and later, Formula 1 legend, Ayrton Senna.[96][97][98][99]

She reported in 2012, that reclusive singer Michael Jackson had once courted her, inviting her to dinner at his Neverland estate and then had a subordinate ask whether she would consider living with Jackson.[100][101] She recently began a relationship with actor and singer, Junno Andrade.[102]

Xuxa's mother, Dona Alda Meneghel, suffers from Parkinson's Disease and is in an advanced stage of the illness. She underwent several surgeries in an attempt to slow down or reverse its progress.[103]


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