Brazilian Student Brings Talent to Theater Arts


Guilherme Zaiden

Evan Ramirez, Staff Writer

With a more technologically driven generation come new platforms, and with new platforms come the ability to express one’s self in different formats.

Since its inception in 2005, YouTube has taken over the Internet and provided the world with a new way to consume media.

It’s the main hub for music videos and various other forms of entertainment. But it’s also an outlet for performers, whether it be comedy, dance or singing, as made evident by GCC student Guilherme Zaiden Arruda.

Zaiden, who’s known in Brazil as Guilherme Zaiden, is a 24-year-old theater arts major who has accumulated 19 million views and 10,000 subscribers on YouTube. He accomplished this after publishing only eight videos under his username GZAiDEN.

After living in his native country of Brazil for two decades, Zaiden made his way to the U.S. a year-and-a-half ago. Since an early age, he knew that he wanted to speak English and to be an actor.

“I guess every decision of my life somehow directed toward my coming here,” Zaiden said.

Not only have his videos garnered millions of views, but they also landed him a role on a popular Brazilian soap opera, “India – A Love Story.” He was called in after people on staff saw his videos.

“It’s weird when you think about a part of the Internet where rich, powerful, successful people watch YouTube as much as I do because they saw my videos and called me to be in their production in Brazilian Hollywood.”

Without any production companies or agents, Zaiden found himself being recognized by people on the streets. However, he never intended to be a web personality, but rather wanted to be a real actor.”

“I wanted to do ‘A Streetcar Named Desire,’ he said. “I wanted to do the serious stuff.”

Whether he thinks web videos act as a viable transition to film or television, Zaiden said, “It’s a platform. It can say whatever you want and people can watch it. Everybody can watch it. Everybody has a computer.”

When he was 18 in 2006, he posted his videos to a relatively unknown site, YouTube. While watching American video bloggers, he didn’t notice a Brazilian presence on the site. “I had a vision,” Zaiden joked.

“When I posted my videos on YouTube, I didn’t say that I’d have 8 million views in one video. But at the same time I wasn’t really surprised because it wasn’t a badly produced video.”

Nancy Greene, program assistant for the theater arts department, believes that YouTube videos and performers are the “way people are going these days.”

While he’s racked up millions of views online, some who know him weren’t even aware of his success.

“I did not know that he was a celebrity in Brazil,” Greene said.

Though he only had minimal equipment to work with early on, such as recording his videos with a digital camera and editing in Windows Movie Maker, he believes that producing his videos in a professional manner helped.

“I think that the editing of my videos made them a success because a lot of people turn the camera on and then they go on and on,” he said. “I think you have to do something interesting to be successful in any area of life.”

Looking back on his videos, Zaiden is embarrassed by them, but looks upon it as a “good kind of embarrassment.” He thinks he did the best he could do with what he had.

More so than ever, web videos are being categorized as the outcast of a group. Television used to be looked upon as an inferior product in regards to film, but now web videos are often pushed aside, much like television once was.

However, as Zaiden sees it, some people are making a good living off it. “A lot of people in Brazil that came after me aren’t rich, but they make a living.”

Often the argument that is made regarding web content is in regards to its length.

“I don’t think hot pockets made dinners go away. It’s just a different thing.” Zaiden said.

“Rather than compare different mediums, it’s best to look upon them as various ways to consume entertainment, “It’s really more about your ideas and what you want to show people.”

The transition from the web to the stage wasn’t necessarily easy for Zaiden. After moving to a bigger city to pursue his acting career, he thought it would be a good idea to bring his characters to the stage while people ate their dinners.

“Nobody was even paying attention to what was going on. I bombed. It was so horrible. I thought I was hilarious.”

But what makes a YouTube star, or even a celebrity? Do you have to have that odd gimmick that’s going to draw viewers in, or can you be yourself? Zaiden believes that a lot of the popular videos are simply from content that wasn’t even created for the web, such as Susan Boyle.

“I think people watch YouTube videos when they’re not produced by Hollywood with different eyes. If I’m watching a video of someone, a vlog or something like that, I’m not expecting the person to be brilliant. She doesn’t have ten writers to write jokes for her,” Zaiden said.

Jeanette Farr, a assistant professor of theater arts and co-chair of the theater arts department, directed Zaiden in Neil LaBute’s “Autobahn” last year.

“I think that being humble as an actor or actress is an admirable trait, and I always find Guilherme to be a good, hard worker and devoted to the craft,” said Farr.

Though he’s dabbled in different forms of entertainment, creativity is what really seems to matter.

“I feel like whenever you have obstacles to overcome, that’s when creativity really happens. Because I think it’s those moments where you go, ‘I don’t have a tripod, what do I do?’ and then you create something,” Zaiden said.