Last fall, a meme about using equations to make sense out of any perplexing situation won the internet’s heart. And that meme was, but of course, Confused Math Lady. So, why am I talking about the origins of the Confused Math Lady meme now? Because I just found out that some people I know and love were confident the woman in the four screenshots that make up the Confused Math Lady meme was Julia Roberts. And when they learned that it was not actually Roberts, they went all Confused Math Lady on me (i.e., looked around the room in bewilderment and mentally solved a geometry problem).
I do not judge this mistake; I am not perched atop a high horse. I lost my high horse privileges a decade ago when I realized “Ralph Feeyenus” and “Ray Fines” were not two different actors. (Surprise! Both are just incorrect pronunciations of “Ralph Fiennes.”) I am simply here to set the record straight for anyone who might require a record straightening: The person in the Confused Math Lady meme is not Vivian Ward. And no, that is not Sarah Paulson, either. Both are solid (and fairly popular) guesses, but they are not correct guesses. The person in the Confused Math Lady meme is Brazilian actor Renata Sorrah.
As meme encyclopedia KnowYourMeme explains, the Confused Math Lady screen grabs come from an episode of Senhora do Destino, a Brazilian telenovela that ran from 2004 to 2005. The scene takes place in a jail and has absolutely nothing to do with math.
You can watch the clip that inspired the mathematical meme below.