By Hoda Nassef
Q: The 29th Annual Film Festival has just ended, and I noticed that you were not participating. You often were a member of the jury panel lately. What kept you away this time?
A: I was really too busy to participate this year. But, I was President of the Carthage Film Festival in the early nineties, and I was a jury member in several other panels, such as in Venice, as well as in Cairo a few years ago…It’s a great experience. I really didn’t attend anything, because I had no time to, except the reception in honour of actor Morgan Freeman at the American Embassy.
Q: Tell us about your childhood, where you were born, and if you have any brothers or sisters. What were your happiest and your worst childhood memories?
A: No brothers or sisters. My worst memory was when my father took me away from my mother … and my happiest were during my school days.
Q: What is your horoscope and do you believe in it?
A: Pisces. No, I don’t believe in horoscopes, but I believe in astrology; the “fallak”.
Q: Who actually ‘discovered’ you as an actress?
A: Abdel-Halim Nasr (the photographer). He first heard me singing from the radio in 1975 or 1976. He also produced and directed my first film.
Q: Who are your best friends? Do you have many outside the film industry?
A: Inas El-Daghiedy is my best friend. Elham Shahine is also one of my very close friends. Naglaa Fathy and Isaad Younes are also close friends. I have a lot of friends in my profession, including Hala Sirhan and many others. As for outside of my profession, all my school friends are still my close friends up until now.
Q: Did you like your role as Nadia Anzaha, in the Ramadan serial Ahlam Aadeya ?
A: Actually, not once did I see any shots of myself in the TV serial, because I wasn’t in Egypt. But, yes, I loved my role. I didn’t see any roles of anybody else either, but, I heard that Elham Shahine did a great TV series this last Ramadan. She’s a very important and great actress.
Q. Your famous duet with Adel Imam… What makes you two ‘click’ so successfully? Do you have any more future film projects together?
A: It’s chemistry in front of the camera, and on screen. Emaret Yacoubian (Yacoubian Building) will be aired soon, and that was our latest film together.
Q: How do you keep so fit? Do you play sports, go to the gym, or have any special food diet?
A: I just work out as much as my time permits me to. I eat everything, but try to control myself. For instance, if I eat a lot one day, I eat less the next. And, I try to stick to only one meal a day.
Q: Generally speaking, off working days, what’s your daily routine?
A: It’s completely different from my working days. For instance, I try to finish or catch up on all private stuff that I haven’t had the time to do while filming. But, I try to put aside two to three hours daily of quality time, for me only.
Q: Do you shop for your clothes here, or abroad? Or, have them specially tailored?
A: A bit of everything you just mentioned. In El Erhab wal Kabab and El Mansi films, I designed all of my clothes. In fact, in lots of films I designed most of my clothes.
Q: Dancer and choreographer Walid Awni has been training you lately for your new film The Last Dance. Who will be co-starring with you?
A: Tamer Hagrass. There’s also Ezzat Abou Ouf, Hala Sidki, Talaat Zein. And, a new talent whom you just met; Emy. She’s a singer and dancer. This is her first cinema acting role.
Q: You like to support new talents. You have enough self-confidence to be supportive to new young talents. Such as Emy and before her, May Ezz El-Dine, who thanks you publicly, and says that if it wasn’t for your support, she would still be unknown.
A: They need my support. When I was in their shoes, I needed support too. I do this from my heart. And May is my little darling.
Q: Professionally speaking, what are your future aspirations and dreams? You sang, you modelled, you acted and you danced! So, what’s next?
A: For me, it’s not enough. I’m still beginning!
Q: If you go on Hajj on day, would you ever don the veil, but continue to act?
A: Yes, I do Omras every year, thank God, and no, I would never wear the veil. It’s not in my way of thinking. To me, veiling your heart and your tongue is much more important than veiling your hair! And, when you cope or deal with others, you have to have a good conscience.
Q: What is your biggest fear of the future?
A: That I might not be able to fulfil all my ambitions and dreams.
Q: Is being loved really a gift from God?
A: The most important thing in life is being loved for yourself. One can’t equalize this with anything. Such as when I’m walking in the streets and people greet me and I feel that they really like me. And, when they believe in you, and in what you do and love you for yourself. For me, this is the biggest pleasure on earth.
Q: Yes, but apart from the love of your fans, what else do you derive pleasure from?
A: You don’t have to be famous to be loved by people. Just imagine that someone gets to know you on a personal basis and then you discover it’s for ulterior motives. Of course I will not be totally loyal or frank to this person, and my reactions will be just as obvious. I try my best to be transparent and frank with everybody I know, but my reactions would be different and complimentary with someone who is not totally sincere with me.
Q: Would you consider becoming a TV presenter one day, if offered the job here or abroad?
A: Talk shows are not on my agenda at the present time, but I have been asked to anchor some TV shows – up till this present date in fact. But, I’m not considering it right now. I would accept only if it was something extraordinarily outstanding, fantastic, incomparable and uncompetitive.
A: I just go away for a while, or don’t answer my phones if I’m in Cairo.
Q. Is it tiresome to be famous?
A. You pay for it! Fame has a price-tag and you often feel that you’re being observed with a microscope whenever in public, so you have to watch every word or every move you make, as much as possible, and always be ‘a quatre épingles!’
Q: What if you just want to walk around town, or around the block?
A: I do, and people are really very nice about it. They don’t bother me at all.
Q: Did you always live in Zamalek, even before your marriage?
A: Yes, I always did and partly in Heliopolis, when I went to school.
Q: Finally, you mentioned that choreographer Walid Awni trained you in dancing for your new film. How was it, and how does it make you feel, in the long run?
A: Walid Awni made me practice for three hours daily, for three months before filming. It killed me, but I enjoyed it tremendously! You know why? Because of that, I simply feel free now! I feel free and that I can fly!