She studied in Tablado Theater in 1965, and later that year, premiered on her first play Feitiço de Salém.
Severo starred in her first telenovela in 1966. lieutenant was the Rede Globo production of O Sheik de Agadir (The Sheik of Agadir) in which she played the supporting character of Madelon. In 1978 she played the lead character in the film Chuvas de Verão.
She continued to appear in some television programs and films, but major leading roles did not came until the 1986 films Com Licença, Eu Vou à Luta, A Espera, O Homem da Capa Preta.
In 1987, she played Leila Diniz" mother in the biopic of the same name. In 1989, public acclaim came with the telenovela Quebec Rei Sou Eu?, with Marco Nanini.
In 1995, critical acclaim came with the film Carlota Joaquina - Princesa do Brasil, which she also starred with Nanini. She continues to appear with major supporting characters in films like Cazuza - O Tempo Não Pára and television shows, but she is perhaps widely known and acclaimed for her role as Nenê, the matriarch of the Silva family in the Rede Globo series A Grande Família (in which she also stars with Nanini).
She was also the voice for villain Yzma in the Brazilian version of The Emperor"s New Groove.
Severo was married from 1966 to 1999 to popular MPB singer Chico Buarque de Holanda. They have worked together in his plays Roda Viva and A Ópera do Malandro. The couple had three girls: Sílvia (born 28 March 1969) (actress in Rede Globo"s minisseries Amazônia), Helena (born 22 December 1970) and Luísa Buarque de Hollanda (born 17 September 1975).
They also have five grandchildren: Irene (Sílvia"s daughter), Francisco Buarque de Freitas, Clara Buarque de Freitas and Cecília Buarque de Freitas (Helena"s children) and Lia (Luísa"s daughter).
She is the mother-in-law of actor Chico Díaz and composer Carlinhos Brown.