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The Transformation Of Alice Braga From Childhood To Queen Of The South

Alice Braga, the star of USA Network's crime drama series "Queen of the South," is a powerhouse actress with years of experience under her belt. The Brazilian star has earned tons of awards over the years, including a Cinema Brazil Grand Prize for Best Actress, a Latino Entertainment Journalists Association Film Award for Best Voice, a Brazilian Prêmio Contigo Cinema Award for Best Actress, and two Prêmio Guarani Awards, among several award nominations.

Most recently, Braga kicked butt in James Gunn's "The Suicide Squad" as Sol Soria, a rebel fighter from the fictional island of Corto Maltese who initially teamed up with Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) to help liberate her people. Apart from her two recent roles in "Queen of the South" and "The Suicide Squad," Braga has starred in dozens of films and television shows both in the United States and her home country of Brazil.

Let's take a look at Braga's transformation from childhood to her starring role on "Queen of the South."

Alice Braga grew up surrounded by artists

Braga's introduction to the entertainment world came about when she was very young. Born in São Paulo, Brazil to an actress mother (as well as having Sonia Braga, a famous actress, for an aunt), Braga grew up on film and television sets. She described her early induction into the arts in an interview with Kelly Clarkson, explaining "It was because of my mom, [she] was an [assistant director] as well. Everyone in the entire family — the entire family is very artistic. She used to be an AD, so I grew up with a bunch of directors, and her friends started inviting me to do commercials because I was always like talking, and being very spontaneous."

She went on to explain that she appeared in several commercials between the ages of 10 and 14, and then at the age of 17, she met a director who would later go on to cast her in her first feature-film role. But before then, Braga performed theatre in school and continued to learn from watching her mother at work.

She got her start in Brazilian films

Braga's film career began in Brazil when she was cast in the 2002 crime drama "City of God." She played Angélica, a love interest to two of the other leads in the film. Braga described the impact "City of God" had on her career to SlashFilm, saying "I think it's a film that broke a barrier. The film didn't age, and the film is still a reference. I think that's so beautiful and so powerful. I mean, for me it was life-changing, even if it's a small character and all that. ... It was always special because of that because it was my first connection into acting in a feature film. And in a film like that, that opened so many doors, not for me only as an actress, but also for Brazilian cinema, and for a bunch of young people that were watching movies all over the world to get inspired by."

While "City of God" was a huge milestone for her career, Braga revealed that she considers a different movie to be more impactful to her life. She starred in 2005's "Lower City," where she portrayed a dancer named Karina. She told Interview Magazine: "Lower City was the most important film for me as an actress because it gave me a perspective of what I love about it, and how amazing it is when you put your soul into it and give yourself 100 percent to what you are doing."

She received international recognition in I Am Legend

Though Braga's first English language film was in the 2006 thriller "Journey to the End of the Night," she gained international acclaim in the post-apocalyptic action film "I Am Legend" opposite Will Smith. She played a woman named Anna Montez who was immune to the deadly zombie-creating virus and tracked down Dr. Robert Neville (Smith) via his radio broadcasts. Braga was praised for her role as the resourceful and brave Montez, and "I Am Legend" served as a catapult for the rest of her career.

In an interview with Collider, Braga expressed how she felt working with Smith during filming, saying "as an actress working opposite him, it's an enormous pleasure to work with someone who just wants to give you more and more and more and just wants to open the door for you to be really comfortable ... And for me, then, learning and I'm in the beginning, and it's my first American movie, and it was an enormous pleasure working with him."

She's been in tons of action-packed movies

Once Braga made her U.S. blockbuster debut, she continued to land tons of roles in action-packed, thrilling movies. In 2008, she played the role of Sondra Terry, the wife of a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu teacher, in a martial arts film titled "Redbelt" that gained favorable reviews according to Metacritic. Braga also had a part in the 2008 thriller "Blindness" opposite Julianne Moore and Mark Ruffalo. She played the role of Woman with Dark Glasses, which she described as a mysterious person (via Cannes Film Festival).

Then in 2009, Braga landed a role in the crime drama "Crossing Over" as Mireya Sánchez, an immigrant who was deported from the United States and forced to leave her young son behind. By the end of the film, she was found dead by a border patrol agent, though we didn't learn exactly what happened to her. "Crossing Over" told the stories of multiple immigrants from different countries around the world, and shed a light on the hardships and unfair treatment that immigrants and refugees commonly face.

She's also ventured into science fiction roles

Braga is no stranger to the world of science fiction. She starred in the 2010 sci-fi action film "Repo Men" with Jude Law, Forest Whitaker, and Liev Schreiber, in which artificial organs are repossessed once customers can no longer make their scheduled payments for them. Braga played a singer named Beth who had multiple artificial organs herself, and eventually entered a relationship with Law's character, Remy.

That same year, Braga appeared in the sci-fi action flick "Predators," which featured a star-studded ensemble cast including Adrien Brody, Topher Grace, Mahershala Ali, Danny Trejo, and Laurence Fishburne. Braga played a sniper from the Israel Defense Forces named Isabelle, and described working with her fellow talented costars to 25 Years Later: "There are so many amazing actors in it. I remember when we were making it, we were making it with the passion of a classic monster film — If you look at the genre, but without judging it. We had fun making it; that's why it was so special to do it."

She also explained why she started to venture into more science fiction and action-based roles, saying "I think it was interesting because those films started coming in my direction and I just wanted to do them because it was so different and far away from the type of movies that I came from that were telling specific social issues in Brazil. I thought it was a nice challenge."