Netflix Series “Fearless” Was a Learning Experience for Vieira

By: Justin Felisko
September 15, 2016

Joao Ricardo Vieira arrives in Charlotte this weekend No. 5 in the world standings. Photo: Andy Watson /

Joao Ricardo Vieira arrives in Charlotte this weekend No. 5 in the world standings. Photo: Andy Watson /

CHARLOTTE – Joao Ricardo Vieira shook his head and said, “No. It is OK. Go ahead,” when asked if he wanted Valdiron de Oliveira or Guilherme Marchi to translate for him last weekend in Springfield, Missouri.

The 32-year-old from Itatiba, Brazil, is amidst his fourth season on the Built Ford Tough Series and has only been living in the United States since Jan. 2013. During his short time in the U.S., Vieira, who arrived in the U.S. with only $15,000, has tried to pick up and learn the English language as best he can.

Vieira has reached a point this year where he is confident attempting to speak in English without a translator by his side. He also is now able to communicate his thoughts and opinions about bull riding more so than ever before in his career.

Still, Vieira wants to continue improving his English, and he took a different approach last month.

How so?

“I watched ‘Fearless’ three times,” Vieira said. “Two times in English. One time in Portuguese. Yeah, it was good to help me with my English.”

“Fearless” is a six-episode docuseries available exclusively on Netflix. The series profiled Vieira and some of the other top Brazilian bull riders competing in the United States last year on the Built Ford Tough Series.

The U.S-based version of “Fearless” has a mix of English and Portuguese throughout the six episodes. American interviews were done in English, while the Brazilians spoke in Portuguese with English subtitles below them.

Vieira was able to learn some of the common terminology Americans use here in the United States based on the translation of him and his fellow Brazilians.

“The English (version) is much better,” he said. “I like the English one. The show in Portuguese is no good.”

He then adds with a laugh, “The translation of the voices (in the Portuguese version) I don’t like. The original in English is good. It is a good show.”

During the series, fans get to learn about Vieira’s passion for animals and how he has a college degree in animal studies.

In Springfield, Vieira said he hopes to ride for two or three more years before he returns home to Brazil. He will then buy a ranch and care for various animals and livestock.

Vieira added that his eventual decision to move home is not about him liking or disliking the United States. It is more about a promise he made to his parents when he turned professional at 18 years old.

“When I started riding, I tell my friends and parents I will retire at maybe 35 years old,” Vieira said. “Maybe I ride three years more. I want to buy a ranch. If I see one now, maybe, but I may wait until I retire.”

Vieira added that he will likely move to either Sao Paulo or Mato Grosso – the city where he was born.

He has won over $1.5 million in his career and laughed about having the ability to one day kick back on his ranch and no longer worry about the soreness that comes with being a bull rider.

“I will maybe work as a doctor and on my farms,” he said. “I will relax. No stress. No worrying about getting on bulls. No step on me. No sore. It will be good.”

Retirement is a couple years away, though, and Vieira’s sights are on trying to avoid another second-half collapse like he had in 2015.

Vieira was the No. 1 bull rider in the world standings last year before he struggled with injuries during the final three months of the season. J.B. Mauney eventually overtook him in the standings and went on to win the 2015 world title.

So far Vieira’s 2016 stretch run is mirroring that of 2015. Vieira is 4-for-16 since the BFTS resumed in Nashville and he has only earned 375 points toward the standings.

He is fifth in the world standings heading into this weekend’s Charlotte Invitational, presented by Cooper Tires, and trails world leader Kaique Pacheco by 1,207.83 points.

“Yeah, I just don’t get good bulls, but it is OK,” he said. “This moment. There is no stress. No pressure. It is good. I feel very good. I feel great. I feel strong.”

Vieira has drawn Carolina Classic (0-1, BFTS) for Round 1 on Friday night. Fans can catch the event exclusively on PBR LIVE beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET.

There are six events remaining until the 2016 Built Ford Tough World Finals on Nov. 2-6.

Vieira knows he needs to gain some ground on Pacheco and the other world leaders, but he is also aware that there are more points available (up to 3,300 for one rider) at the Finals than last year when Mauney clinched the world title in Round 4 with a 92.75-point ride on SweetPro’s Bruiser.

“I don’t worry,” Vieira concluded. “It won’t finish before the last day of the Finals. The World Champion won’t be (until) the last day.”

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko

Fearless is available to stream now for Netflix subscribers. 

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