Pop Star Anitta 'Used to Struggle' with Sexy and Shy Sides: 'Now They Communicate' (Exclusive)

On Tuesday, the Brazilian singer took home the Moon Person trophy for best Latin video for "Funk Rave" at the MTV VMAs

<p>Ramona Rosales</p> Anitta

Ramona Rosales


Though Brazilian singer Anitta has become a household name, on some days, she just wants to be Larissa.

After breaking into the scene in 2013 with her self-titled debut, the "Envolver" singer revealed a new side of herself: the sexy and unapologetic Anitta we know today. Since then, the trilingual singer has achieved international stardom — and learned that she can be both Anitta and Larissa (her real name is Larissa de Macedo Machado).

"Larissa is very private, very relaxed, very low key and very quiet. Anitta is the opposite: outspoken, exposing myself," the singer, 30, tells PEOPLE in this week's issue in light of Hispanic Heritage Month. "I think it’s two completely different people and I used to struggle with that."

<p>Ramona Rosales</p> Anitta

Ramona Rosales


Related: Anitta Sings a Mix of Hits — and an Unreleased Song! — at the 2023 MTV VMAs

She continues, "It [used to be] two sides of my brain fighting with each other. [Then,] I learned how to make them communicate."

As she navigates stardom, Anitta — who earned a best new artist Grammy nomination this year — says her family is what keeps her grounded.

"They give me a perception of partnership, relationships, and friendship like nothing else. They treat me like a normal person even if here in Brazil I am treated like a queen, a superstar," she says. "It’s a very simple, humble relationship and I love that about us. We are always together. They are the ones that make me feel like myself."

Since she was a young girl, Anitta knew she wanted to be a singer: "When I was a kid, I was like, 'I’m going to be a singer. I’m going to sing here, I'm going to sing there.'"

"It’s funny to look at myself when I was a kid saying [these] things and now being like, 'I did it,'" she says.

<p>courtesy of Anitta</p> Anitta with (from left) nephew Benicio, Renan, niece Leticia, half brother Felipe and Mauro in 2022.

courtesy of Anitta

Anitta with (from left) nephew Benicio, Renan, niece Leticia, half brother Felipe and Mauro in 2022.

Related: Anitta Had a 'Nervous' Bathroom Emergency Before Recording with Madonna: 'My Stomach Was Going Crazy'

But the road wasn't easy. Anitta — who was born in the working-class neighborhood of Honório Gurgel in Brazil — experienced poverty, her parents' divorce and survived sexual assault by a former boyfriend.

"All the struggles teach us something," she says. “I [now] look at the things I’ve been through with gratitude. Not like ‘Oh, that was good,’ but for what I learned — for [the ability to] look at myself as a stronger person, as someone who always deserves better.”

Between starring in Rihanna’s latest Savage X Fenty, making her acting debut next month in
the Spanish-language Netflix series Elite and finishing her next album, Anitta wants people to familiarize her new fans with Brazilian funk — and serve as an inspiration to them all at the same time.

“I [want fans to know] that they can do whatever they want, be whoever they want, and they should love themselves before any other person,” she says. “I’m a good example of that.”

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