The rising star turns the heads of audiences and critics alike starring alongside Sherihan in Coco Chanel.
She debuted her professional career as a journalist, then travelled to the United States to study art direction at the New York Fashion Institute & Technology, only to discover that what she really wanted to pursue was a career in acting. Today, the talented young actress is making an impression with audiences and critics alike in Sherihan’s comeback play Coco Chanel. This month she chats with Egypt Today about her latest role in the play, her career and future plans.
Tell us all about how were you cast in Coco Chanel
I was in Paris when Marwa Gabriel told me that I’m on the shortlist for a lead of a huge project. Just a day after coming back to Cairo I received the call that director Hadi Elbagouri had chosen me for the role. I had no idea what the project was but once I figured it was Sherihan’s comeback and directed by Hadi, I immediately agreed without even reading the script. Later that night, I started reading the script and I was very flattered he had chosen me since it’s the biggest role with her in the play. I’m absolutely very grateful for the opportunity to be in this very unique creative production.
How would you describe working with the iconic Sherihan? What did you learn from her?
She’s literally a legend. I’ve enjoyed every second working with her, we got along great. I’m a very committed person to my work and as a method actor I care very much about details and so does she which was very heartwarming in comparison to what we see nowadays in the industry. She’s not only an icon who is very passionate about her craft but also a very delightful person to be around. She has respect for every single person on the project, is very humble and polite with everyone, and the biggest flex is she’s an encourager and builds up other actors with her. I’ve a learned a lot from her and to be honest she’s one of the very few superstars who cares and enjoys teaching others.
This is your first role that requires dancing how did you prepare for this?
Yes it is. I did ballet as a child so I had an idea, however, contemporary dance is a whole different story and Hani Abaza our choreographer did a great job rehearsing with us almost every single day during pre-production months. The biggest challenge was keeping up with Sherry’s steps , when it comes to dancing she’s outstanding on every level.
How important is it to portray influential women like Coco Chanel in theater?
Very important. Not only in theater but in cinema and on TV as well. Inspiring other women by telling them stories of successful women who also struggled to succeed from all over the world is crucial. Sherihan herself and her life are huge inspiring stories that are no less than Gabrielle Chanel.
What’s the most demanding role you’ve played to date, and which of your roles has touched or affected you the most?
Every role is a demanding role since I usually pick characters that are very different from me. Some are more emotionally demanding than others like Camelia in Lams Aktaf who was a total psycho coming across as a sweetheart.
And Cécile was physically demanding, not only the dancing parts but the exile scene, Sherihan and I were literally standing and moving in a hanging box about eight meters above the stage. One wrong move and we could have fallen but we successfully pulled it off.
I know you are picky and only perform the roles that attract you the most. Do you agree that actors always need to be one the scene, even if it means accepting roles only to be present?
I’m picky for a couple of reasons: one, I wanted to work with and learn from the greatest in this industry and I’m very grateful that I was given the opportunity to work with the best since I started. Two, I’m not a big fan of social drama but since this was the mostly produced genre in the past few years, I had to pick the best of what’s available to me. But no, it’s a myth that absence for a short period makes a difference in the industry. As a matter of fact, when an actor is all over the place everywhere it’s a major turnoff. How would audiences miss them and want to go watch them if they’re everywhere?
What is your dream role?
I love sci-fi and thrillers and it’s why I love acting. It introduces you to imaginary worlds. I’m crossing my fingers for a sci-fi role, because we can create what Hollywood creates. We do have the talents and the production. And usually sci-fi and thrillers are the highest box office grossers in Egypt, not just worldwide.
Which actor, actress and director do you want to work with the most?
Oh my, so many still on my list. Directors like Marian Hamed, Sherif Arafa, Peter Mimi, Amr Salama . . . I love their work and their out-of-the-box creative projects. And on my greatest generation list there’s Adel Emam and Mahmoud Hemeda.
You studied psychology, how has this affected your acting performance? How do you preserve your mental health in general and what are your tips for our readers?
I studied psychology as a part of studying method acting in Lee Strasberg. It of course allows me to give depth to my characters’ behavior, thoughts, movement, traits and even how they speak. It allows me to make them real people not just a spoken script.
I preserve my mental health after shooting by totally disconnecting from my character and social media. In fact I took last year off because I was at a place where I missed who I am and the Covid-19 pressure was too much to deal with. I don’t regret that break, it was so much needed.
As advice, seek help and rest assured it’s OK not to be OK. We need to be kind to ourselves and realize that life has its ups and downs. It’s a journey and we’re just passengers.
You started your professional career as a journalist, why did you shift from writing to acting? Has your journalism experience helped you in your acting career?
I was a creative director for about only three months, acting as editor in chief for the period I was rebranding an English magazine into a fashion and lifestyle publication to suit 18 to 24 year old readers. Part of my job as a creative director was creative writing and putting together creative concepts and leading a team to execute that alongside artwork that’s usually done by art directors, graphic designers and creative writers. It was an interesting experience that made me respect a lot how journalists work and the struggles they go through. It definitely makes me work with journalists from a different perspective now that I’m an actress.