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How to Behave

Model Barbie Ferreira Says Her New Show Is 'Definitely Feminist Propaganda'

The body-positive Instagram model-turned-actor tells Broadly why her playful yet political show is the one women need right now.

Leila Ettachfini

Leila Ettachfini

Photo by Jaime Chew

Barbara Ferreira, also known by her Instagram handle @barbienox or simply Barbie, first made waves around four years ago as a body-positive model who refused to be touched-up when she was still in high school. Since then, her Instagram has become a space where she discusses stretch marks, politics, and everything in between with her nearly half a million followers.

In How to Behave, Barbie's new VICE show in partnership with Go90, she explores these themes and more as she meets women with diverse backgrounds—from financial advisors to dominatrixes—and attempts to experience life as they do, despite the fact that she's admittedly "not good at things in general."

The model and actor spoke with Broadly just before she wrapped filming the first season of How to Behave, and opened up about why she believes her show is the one women need right now.

BROADLY: How would you describe How to Behave?
BARBIE FERREIRA: I've tried so hard to explain the show, but How to Behave is really kind of beyond explanation for me. Before the trailer it was really funny because I'd try to explain it and people just wouldn't get it. What I would say is: It's a feminist journey through different themes featuring women on both sides of the spectrum in relation to whatever specific theme. Like with the episode about money, there's a financial advisor and a dominatrix. And then I try things, too, which is hilarious. I'm also just not good at things in general, like anything physical or under pressure. But I do them anyways in the name of feminism.

How did the idea for the show come about?
I met with my new acting agent and I was like: I really want a VICE show. That was one of my goals apart from auditioning for shows and movies. And she was like, "Oh I can set up a meeting." I was kind of nervous, [thinking] "Oh my god what if they don't like me?" I went in thinking I was gonna chat and see if there was something I could pitch, but they already had the concept of How to Behave, though they didn't have any of the actual people I would meet in the show. So then I brought in my friends, my family, just people in my life that I think are really dope, and people I didn't think I would ever meet, like competitive eaters.

What was your vision for the show?
I wanted it to be smart. I wanted it to be something that people can enjoy, that can be entertaining, but at the same time, make them question what's happening in the world because I think it's a very important time to have things that uplift minority groups and women and queer culture. Definitely feminist propaganda, that's what we call it.

What was the best part of filming for you?
Oh my god, it was honestly so much fun. People would think I'm an adventurous gal, you know? But physically... I don't even know how to ride a bike so I'm not a very adventurous person when it comes to the outdoors. I got to meet amazing people that I've admired for a long time. I got to meet people that I never knew existed who I'm now friends with. It was so amazing to just get different takes on other people's lives and see a bit of what they go through and what they're passions are.

Do you wish a show like this was around when you were younger?
For sure. I think that any show where a woman navigates smart conversations and questions things and can also be funny at the same time is something I never really had in my childhood. I'm not saying that there weren't any before me, but I never thought it was possible for me to explore these things or make a show. It's been great!

There seems to be some really diverse representation on the show, especially with the people you interview.
Yes and the content of the show is so broad and it's not pigeon-holed. There are sex workers, there are people who work in offices who own businesses, there are doctors. Everyone's opinion is completely on the same level, people's experiences are on the same level. So it's like we're giving you two perspectives that you might not know because maybe you think that something is a little too bougie or low-brow.

What are you hoping people take away from watching?
I want them to laugh, and I want people to see the people I interviewed because they're all fucking amazing and all so different and they all have so much to say. It's not really about what I gotta say, it's about what they gotta say.

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What's next for you?
I'm just dipping my toes into everything I've wanted to do for a long time, taking a little crack at directing some things for my friends, along with acting, modeling still.

Are you switching gears to focus on acting over modeling?
I've done my stint in the modeling industry for four years and I obviously still want to model and it's something I love to do, but it's I think the next step is acting. That's the thing I truly want to do. I like directing and creating, I just want to broaden my horizons. I feel like modeling is very cool, but it's very one dimensional.

How did you navigate making this show, that's clearly multi-dimensional, without being too serious or boring?
I thought it was really important to make it not look like a PSA. I didn't want it to be me preaching and bombarding people with my own personal opinions. None of it is preachy, none of it is jumping down anyone's throat. It's just shows real people in real life, how they work, and their take on feminism. I go to up-tight offices and sex dungeons. I'm really proud of it because it's like a 360 view of everything—my personal journey, and this broad view of feminism, and women in the US, and how there are different walks of life and yet how everyone's similar.