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By: Mariam Elhamy

We have interviewed 85 of Egypt’s finest talents; actors, directors, writers, business people, thinkers, and dreamers. Here are just a few of the quotes that stayed with us over the years, in order of appearance on the pages of Cairo West Magazine.

Read more celebrity interviews here

Tamer Hagrass

Star sign: Scorpio

Fun fact: Former model representing brands like Kenzo, Jean Paul Gaultier, BMW and Pepsi

“When I catch myself being lazy, I push myself to go outside and enjoy my morning coffee in the garden. It really makes a difference for the rest of the day.”

Ahmed Helmy

First film: Abboud Ala El Hodood

Star sign: Scorpio

Fun fact: He loves interior design and drawing

“I love my work, not for the fame or money, but for the joy of doing it. Whenever I start working on a movie, I look at anyone’s expectations and try to deliver the opposite. This keeps everybody interested as to what I am going to do.”

Visit Ahmed Helmy

Khaled el Nabawi

First film: Lela Assal

Star sign: Virgo

Hobbies: Swimming and cooking

“My aim as an actor is to defeat death. I want to play a role that will be remembered forever”

Naguib Sawiris

Star sign: Gemini

Fun fact: He loves socializing and goes out 3-4 times a week

“My dad let go and never interfered or prevented us from doing what we wanted to do. He gave us love and trust, while my mother instilled a fear and love of God. Fear makes us to do the right thing and love makes us charitable.”

Lara Scandar

Debut single: Mission is You in 2010

Star sign: Sagittarius

Fun fact: Has sung in English, French, Spanish and Italian

“My parents taught me that ethics and principles will get you places, regardless of the dirty games played in the industry.”

Hany Salama

First film: Destiny with the late Youssef Chahine

Star sign: Cancer

Fun fact: If he wasn’t an actor, he would be a pilot

“We should never underestimate the power of movies. They can sway the consciousness of a nation and direct their thoughts

Dorra Zarrouk

Dream role: Legendary singer Warda

Star sign: Capricorn

“Acting often requires you to go through an entire range of emotions in a single day, which can have a major effect on someone over a long period of time.”

Amir Karara

Debut: Started out as a broadcaster hosting Shabab Online with Bushra

Role model: Ahmed el Sakka

Star sign: Libra

“I left broadcasting because I realized I was never going to be the next Amr Adeeb, so I got involved in the next best thing.”

Breakthrough role: El Medina

Star sign: Gemini

“I’m a firm believer in the fact that you do not choose your roles, the role chooses you.”

 

Mona Zaki

Star sign: Scorpio

Comfort food: Molokheya

Proudest moment: Acting with Ahmed Zaki in Edhak, El Soora Tetla3 Helwa

“Sometimes actors can hear an inner voice that inspires them to express themselves through their acting, but mostly it is simply their gift they must share with the world.”

Khaled el Sawy

Star sign: Sagittarius

Comfort food: Molokheya and duck

“I don’t like having overt political messages in my work. I prefer reading between the lines, so the viewer can interpret. If it’s in your face, then it’s preachy or biased.”

Rania Youssef

Dream role: Cleopatra

Star sign: Sagittarius

Fun fact: She is a former model and flight attendant

“Diversity will teach you how to act in different situations and there is never a role that won’t teach you something new. Get out there and work!”

Samih Sawiris

Star sign: Aquarius

Fun fact: If he had a different career, he would have pursued music and become a composer

“I’ve always followed my gut feelings and don’t believe in setting goals. Adjust the target to suit the life you are living and keep it flexible. I’ve seen too many people wasting their lives following a target while neglecting the things that are ultimately important; health and family.”

Mohamed Hefzy

Profession: Screenwriter/Producer/Director
Star sign: Pisces

Fun fact: Studied Engineering in the UK

“Scriptwriting is not taught; it is not a craft. It’s being able to express what you want, and you have to be good at psychoanalysis, as you need to breakdown each character that you are creating.”

Nelly Karim

First film: Shabab A’l Hawa

Star sign: Sagittarius

Comfort food: Potatoes in any form

“I have to have good rapport with my costars. I won’t take a role if I feel there will be a clash of personalities. I have little interest in working with temperamental or egocentric people.”

Arwa Gouda

Debut: El-Haya Montaha El-lazza

Star sign: Libra

Fun fact: Won “Best Model of the World” twice!

“I have a very strong belief in the importance of Egypt’s Pharaonic identity. If you lose your heritage, you lose your identity.”

Karim Abdel Aziz

First leading role: Leih Khaletni Ahebak

Star sign: Leo

Comfort food: Molokheya

“I was never able to do the standard 9 to 5 job. I can’t do routine, I constantly like change and the ability to challenge myself.”

Hana Shiha

Debut: Hob El Banet

Star sign: Sagittarius

Fun fact: Her favorite book is Veronica Decides to Die by Paulo Coelho

“Don’t change anything in yourself to accommodate another person. If it’s not really you, sooner or later the real you will come out.”

Mahmoud Hemeida

Star sign: Sagittarius

Fun fact: He trained as a dancer, taking classes in ballet, swing, rock and roll and folklore styles.

“The body is the instrument the actor uses. Everything from blood pressure to nerves to muscles are affected while you are acting, that’s why I studied anatomy to understand and learn to control my body.”

Shereen Reda

Star sign: Cancer

Fun fact: A massive animal lover, she is mom to over a dozen dogs and cats

“The best advice my father ever gave me was to make my own decisions. We are all taught by our parents, he would say, but you must later decide what is right for you personally.”

Ahmed el Sakka

Star sign: Pisces

Fun fact: Attended the police academy

“Acting is acting, and for me body language is crucial. The ‘Egyptian method’ of acting for me is about internalizing the character, and letting the character speak.”

Amina Khalil

Favorite movie: Betwaqeet Al Qahira starring Nour El Sherif & Mervat Amin

Star sign: Scorpio

Fun fact: She loves kite surfing

“There’s a fine line between taking life lightly and being heartless.”

Ahmed Dawood

First film: Walad w Bent

Star sign: Aquarius

Best advice given: Do not lose yourself to any compromises or financial gain.

“I always write what happens to me and how it made me feel. It’s not journaling. I do not write the events of the day. Only incidents that impacted the way I feel, whether good or bad.”

Menna Shalaby

Star sign: Cancer

Favorite gift: Flowers

Dream ambition: Directing documentaries

“Fear, anger and self- criticism are poison. Be stronger than your negative thoughts. Don’t give them power over you.”

Dhafer L’Abidine

Star sign: Sagittarius

Comfort food: Chocolate

Fun fact: Played professional football before becoming an actor

“When I play football, I forget the world. My brain switches off and I just concentrate on the ball.”

Dina el Sherbini

Star sign: Pisces

Comfort food: Fast food

Fun fact: She’s a morning person

“Audiences get tired of films and series full of drugs and violence; they want enjoy more intriguing material.”

Anoushka

Star sign: Pisces

Fun fact: She is half Armenian

“I like to keep life uncomplicated and work from the inside outwards, so I focus on feeling well and balanced through a healthy lifestyle.”

Adel Imam

First film: Ana w Hoa w Hya

Star sign: Taurus

“My wife has been everything on this road to fame, she created this happy family I have and supported me every step of the way. Choosing a partner who loves and appreciates you, who can experience the ups and downs with you, is vital.”

First film: Kheyanna Mashrou

Star sign: Taurus

“Growing up in Domyat, I always dreamt of becoming an actor. Everyone should believe in themselves. I came to Cairo because I believed in my dream.”

Kinda Alloush

Star sign: Aries

Favorite food: Lasagna and sushi

“Never take any relationship for granted. You have to work on yourself, make adjustments and compromises to accommodate a partner into your life. It is very selfish not to make some changes to suit to your partner.”

Ghada Abdel Razeq

Star sign: Leo
Fun fact: She dreamed of being a pilot

“Conniving characters are a challenge. Women identify with me in these roles. Many fans tell me they are proud of me because I portray women as strong and willful.”

Ahmed Mekky

Breakthrough role: Al Hassa el Sabb’a

Star sign: Gemini
Fun fact: He breeds pigeons as a hobby

“I used to hang out at train stations observing or recording people, asking about their lives, watching their body language, the way they would act, I’m fascinated with what makes people tick.”

Abbas Abol Hassan

First film: Hassan w Aziza: Qadeyet Amn Dawla

Star sign: Leo
Fun fact: If he wasn’t an actor, he would be a brain surgeon

“I overcame the cliché of thinking you have to be the best at whatever you do. It is more important to fully appreciate what you are doing and be true to yourself.”

Abu

Celebrity BFF: Yousra

His secret to success: Operating from the higher self and having the agility to do whatever it takes … within a certain code of ethics, of course.

“Since I was a kid I have always believed in the power of words; how words can make a nation go to war. My dad is a Sufi poet, so I started off by writing my own poetry. This evolved into writing songs about equality.”

Tamer Habib

Star sign: Leo
Phobias: Rats and mice

Favorite book: The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera

“I built my fame based on the type of work I do. People identify with the stories I write. All the time I meet people who tell me they feel I am their friend, telling their story.”

Yousra

First film: Fatah Tabhath Aan Al-Hob

Star sign: Pisces

Most valued quality in a friend: Loyalty

“I sat in on many gatherings and meetings with elders in the business discussing what is cinema, what is craft, what inspires and influences us … Each of these people left a mark on the blueprint of who I am today. Each person left an anecdote, a small story… that is what made me who I am today, Yousra.”

Yasmin Raeis

First film: X Large

Star sign: Virgo

Comfort food: Ma2louba

“Motherhood changed me 100%. I have become more careful and protective of myself, because someone else counts on me. I was more of a risk taker before motherhood.”

Ahmed Ezz

First film: Kalam El Lail

Star sign: Leo

“My life doesn’t have space for anything else besides filming, all I do is film! I become so absorbed into the character I’m playing during filming, I even cut myself off from those closest to me like my siblings or friends.”

Breakthrough role: in Alf Mabrook with Ahmed Helmy

Star sign: Scorpio

Fun fact: His favorite cuisine is Asian food

“This can be a soul crushing industry; it’s one of toughest jobs. The industry in Egypt can stomp on potential and dreams, although it is in essence a noble and creative job.”

Fathy Abdel Wahab

Star sign: Leo

Dream filming location: Korea, or the North or South Pole

“I think the idea of character creation comes from live theatre, as theatre makes an actor detach and fully immerse inside the character. Theatre must take the greatest credit in the concept of character portrayal.”

Asser Yassin

First film: Ala Ganb Yasta

Star sign: Pisces 

“Well-known actors work with acting coaches all the time. It’s like going the gym for actors. You’re learning new techniques and discovering new things about yourself.”

Marwan Hamed

Debut film: Yacoubian Building

“I try to take risks with people. It’s very important to cast an actor who has not done this type of role before. I believe that a good performance comes from hard work and preparation.”

Ahmed el Fishawy

First film: El-Morshid (as a child!)

Star sign: Aquarius

“Throughout my career, I’ve selected projects based on a simple motto: “If it aims on the page, it aims on the stage.” If it’s good on the page, then it’ll be a good film.”

Mohamed Mamdouh

Breakthrough role: Ibrahim el Abyad

Star sign: Taurus

Fun fact: His favorite book is Perfume by Patrick Suskind

“Creatively, there is always fear present. Every acting job is a test, and if you look at it this way, you’ll either succeed or fail. If you fail, you’ll be dissatisfied with yourself.  There is also the risk of losing your audience’s belief in your work and that is the scariest thing.”

Ahmed Malek

Star sign: Libra

Comfort food: Indomie

Favorite film: Léon: The Professional

“I just want to show the human condition through my own human condition. I can’t expect audiences will all react in the same way, but I do hope it will make them question more.”

Eyad Nassar

Star sign: Scorpio

Favorite series: Arabesque

Fun fact: He loves Sufi music

“Shooting usually involves very long hours and travel. As actors, we always try to relieve the pressure by just hanging out as a group and enjoying some light moments and fun behind the scenes.”

Sherif Arafa

Star sign: Sagittarius

“Love and power are always at odds. A strong and powerful person faced with conflict also faces another conundrum of whether to follow his heart or his mind. Which does he follow? Which would he sacrifice? And what are the consequences.”

Ola Roshdy

Star sign: Leo

Comfort food: Donuts

Fun fact: She loves 80’s rap and hip hop

“I used to do a lot of comedic roles without any depth, just the funny girl – but nobody is just a funny girl. Even if you’re funny, there sometimes sadness behind the jokes.”

 

Star sign: Leo

Fun fact: Studied psychology and worked as a TV presenter before transitioning to acting.

“I’ve been working on my inner peace for a while, I don’t want to be affected as much by external factors. I want everything to come from within, from my inner stability and strength.”

Hend Sabry

Star sign: Scorpio

Favorite designer: Ralph & Russo and Elie Saab

Comfort food: Pasta

“I believe most actors love playing the villain because there is a lot to explore. It’s time that women get to play a variety of roles, not just the sweet angelic girl or the naïve character.”

Amr Youssef

Star sign: Sagittarius

Comfort food: Molokheya

Fun fact: He studied law before becoming an actor

“My ambitions have no limits. If you feel you’ve tasted success, you need to wake up the next morning with renewed ambition for what comes next and never stop reaching for the next level.”

Ahmed Mourad

Star sign: Aquarius

Fun fact: He can read palms

“My message to the youth is that you’re wasting precious gold by wasting time. Energy and time can move mountains.”

Tamer Hosny

Star sign: Leo

Fun fact: He wanted to be a professional football player

“I find people have a certain notion of what roles singers should play on the big screen, and it tends to be very limiting. I like to challenge people’s perceptions by choosing to defy expectations.”