LOS ANGELES - 'Tis the season for Carnival, or Carnaval in South America. There's no better place to celebrate than in Brazil. For celebrity fitness trainer Nicole Steen, her goal was to appear in Rio de Janeiro's famed Sambadrome.
We met up Stten at Equinox in Encino, one of the places where you'll find her teaching any number of fitness classes. Steen has been a dancer her whole life, but says Samba is one of the hardest dances she's had to learn.
She spent two years taking classes online and started during the COVID lockdown.
She wanted to "experience it like everyone experiences it in Rio de Janeiro." She made that happen last year. She freestyled on Copacabana's famed Avenida Atlantica. She joined in with drummers on the street. She was in full costume in the Sambadrome alongside the best in Brazil.
The favela communities are home to some of the top samba schools. They come alive during Carnival's official five days. The favelas are synonymous with samba's African roots in Latin America.
Brazilian fashion producer Paulo Vinicius Cunha Lucas spends Carnival in Salvador in the state of Bahia. He says Salvador as a city "has more Black people in the world, outside Africa." His affection came as "I saw that they value the skin color, the hair."
Carol Novaes is an attorney-turned-personality after appearing on the Netflix reality show "Love is Blind, Brazil." She says Carnival is "a celebration of our culture and those who came before us."
For Steen, it was a dream come turned reality. She has the photos, videos, and costume to prove it.
Throughout February, America marks Black History Month and FOX 11 celebrates Black Heritage.