By: Aliaa Elsherbini
Multi-talented actress, radio host and animal rights supporter, Mariam El Khost carved out some time from her hectic schedule to chat with Cairo West Magazine.
CWM: Congrats on your most recent role in Leh La2. For people who haven’t watched it yet, how would you describe the series?
MK: I really find it as a different type of TV series because it is lighthearted, yet it addresses important social issues without being overly dramatic. Leh La2 touches you differently from these types of shows because it is highly relatable.
You play the role of Radwa in the show, who is in a very toxic relationship and is going through a lot of phases of self-discovery and questioning, how did you prepare for that role?
I can’t generalize, but most girls either were a “Radwa” at some point, or are Radwa or have personally known a Radwa, which made embodying the role not that hard. On top of that, Mariam Abo Ouf the director and Mariam Naoum the writer really believe in this project and have a clear vision of what each character should portray so they were an enormous help. If I had any questions I knew I could call them to discuss no matter how busy they were, so it was a collective effort to build this character.
In a short span of time you have played different characters, all of which raised important social issues. Was that a conscious decision? How do you choose your roles?
What I choose to be conscious about is to not give too much importance to being present in each season, but rather focus on how the role will be adding to my career and to choose different roles that I haven’t done before. That’s why when I was offered a role in Eugenie Nights I immediately took it as it was different from anything that I had done before.
So is that why you chose to dabble in comedy and take part in El Anesa Farah?
Yes! I was really scared getting into that project because comedy is not easy, it’s very difficult. Not every drama actor can play comedy and vice versa. But it turned out to be a very important step because I knew that comedy is a big test that I had to try and see if I was any good at.
You mentioned before that you wanted to do horror, why?
I want to do horror because I actually get really scared. So I feel like this would be an important challenge for me. Seeing the behind the scenes and how these films and series are made I feel I would be less scared knowing it’s all just make-up and special effects.
Mentioning make-up, you have talked plenty about cruelty free products, so how deep did you get into the research on animal testing?
A multinational brand had once asked me to be part of their campaign and I declined, I said, “No because you guys test on animals”. They then told me that they didn’t but I knew they did so we kept going back and forth until I found the part in their legal papers that proved that they were testing on animals. So yes, I can say that I got really deep into it.
I’ve seen a lot of videos on animal testing and I couldn’t even watch all the way through from the cruelty. So I asked myself, “Am I willing to buy products that are made under such circumstances?”, and my answer was no way, I could absolutely not. My friend Asmaa Ibrahim (the actress) gave me advice that I now live by and apply to all situations of my life, “respect how you feel”. And it’s true, you always need to respect whatever it is you’re feeling.
With all the information that you have been gathering about animal testing and animal rights how did that affect your lifestyle and food consumption?
The first thing was that I stopped using any products that used animal testing no matter how tempting, I can always find cruelty-free replacement. Then I completely stopped eating meat and poultry. And then I decreased my usage of plastic and got a linen tote bag that I take with me to the supermarket. I am not a vegan since I still eat cheese and butter, but if I could stop consuming those as well if there was a variety of substitutes I would. For others being vegan is easier, to me it’s a step by step process. One step is better than none at all.
Apart from acting and radio what other talents are you known for?
Every time someone asks me about my other talents I say two things, one is drawing and sculpting because I studied art at university, and the other is handiwork. I really like work that can be done using my hands. For example if there is a running tap or a burnt lightbulb I would fix it. Every now and then I like going around the house to check on electrical keys to see if something needs fixing.
So you’re still in radio, do you still consider that as your first love?
Radio for me is a constant, it is something I am on daily. I have started acting in plays and independent films before stating a career in Radio. The idea of being on air used to make me nervous but when I started, I quickly became attached to it so I try to keep it in line with whatever other work I have. I am lucky that everyone that I worked with were understanding of my role in radio so there was no clash between my careers in radio and acting so far.
What do you currently have in the pipeline?
I don’t like to speak about something unless it is already in process. What I can tell you is that hopefully very soon season 2 of El Anesa Farah will happen and let’s take it from there.
What do you miss most under lockdown?
Dancing. I love to go dancing with my friends
What’s the first place you’ll go once things reopen?
I really want to go to the movies
Favorite getaway destination?
Sinai, I love Nuweiba
A book that has influenced your life?
Siddharthaa, a brilliant book by a German author named Hermann Hesse about the spiritual journey of a monk.
What show are you currently binge-watching?
Anne with an E, it’s a period piece.
Which Harry Potter villain would you get into a battle with?
Lucius Malfoy, I am sure I can take him. I thought of Bellatrix Lestrange, but I have a crush on Helena Bonham Carter so I wouldn’t be able to fight her.
Q&A with Mariam El Khosht– To watch the full interview visit our page on Instagram @cairowestpublications