This couple needs no introduction. Ahmed Dawood is the acclaimed star in many iconic TV series, like Segn El Nesa (Women’s Prison), Grand Hotel, Hatha Al Masaa (This Evening) and Zay El Shams (Crystal Clear); and Ola Roshdy is the dynamic actress/producer you know from iconic films and series, such as El Sellem W El Teaban (Snakes & Ladders) and Tamer & Shawkeya. She also has a massively popular online vlog on motherhood – Weghet Mazar (A Mother’s View). Together, they are currently one of Egypt’s hottest young celebrity couples and have two adorable kids – Gamila (Mila), who is almost nine, and Adam (Doozi), who is turning six. eniGma’s Mohamed Hesham spent a heartwarming day with the family of stars learning all about the couple’s exceptional dynamic during this fun cover shoot at Marina Home Interiors.
My journey with the enigmatic Dawood family began exactly two years ago, when Ola Roshdy’s blog, Weghet Mazar, went viral, and we wanted to shoot her at her house and get the scoop on her new adventure. At the shoot, I quickly realised that Ola was nothing like your usual celebrity. She was painfully blunt and not one to mince words, always telling you exactly what she thought with total honesty. If she didn’t like something, she just said it. At the same time, she was also hilarious and made you laugh out loud with her deadpan humour. Only she and her son Doozi were at home, and Doozi came across as insanely adorable and very shy, to the extent that he would only whisper in his mummy’s ear throughout the shoot and interview with Ola.
Fast forward to 2020, Ola and Ahmed are out and about everywhere, catching everyone’s attention at events and red carpets with their fun attitude and their delightful chemistry. They’ve become the couple to watch and the ideal family that everyone’s in love with. Once again, we were excited to feature them in eniGma, this time with all members of the family for our cover shoot and feature.
Ola is just as blunt and funny as she was two years ago, if not more so, and Doozi is just as shy and even more adorable. I got to meet his sister Mila for the first time, though, and quickly understood that she’s the real star in the family. Although she’s not a spoilt kid, she loves to pretend she is. When we guided Ola and the children to their changing room, which had a sign for ‘Staff’ on the door, Mila shouted, “Mummy, I’m not staff! Why am I back here?” That’s when I knew we had a diva on our plate. Ola jokes that Mila sometimes turns into the character of Veruca Salt from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, whose catchphrase was, “I want it, daddy!” Her diva attitude notwithstanding, Mila and I ended up bonding over our mutual love for the Nickelodeon show, Sam & Cat, as well as for swimming and playing the piano, two hobbies she excels at, and of which I am just a huge fan.
Shy Doozi, on the other hand, is already an overachiever. He loves painting, writing and oh yes, he’s a math genius. His mum got him a book for mathematical divisions when he was just five, because he had already surpassed by a long way what he was being taught in kindergarten. I had this beginner’s Rubik’s Cube in my backpack, which always takes me longer than it should to solve, and offered it to Doozi to play with. It took him exactly one minute! We went on to play the game again and again all day. I would keep messing it up and handing it to him, and he’d quickly solve it and return it to me with a sly smile.
Watching Ahmed and Ola with their kids that day, it was hard to believe they were the same hot celebrity duo that walks the red carpet with all eyes on them – not because they’re less glamorous, but because of the way they carried themselves with such humility and simplicity, which was very refreshing. They came across as your average parents, dressed in blue and pink puffer jackets and mum and dad jeans, with Doozi latched onto Ahmed’s back and Mila holding her mum’s hand.
When I ask what she wants to be when she grows up, Mila tells me she would like to be “a baker, a pianist or an actress,” to which Ola quickly retorts, jokingly, “Maybe in Hollywood dear, not here!” When Mila asks her why, she replies, “You’ll find out when you grow up,” alluding to what might be a less than ideal show business environment here. However, she goes on to assure me, on the side, that she would naturally support her kids no matter what career path they choose.
As parents, Ola and Ahmed are the perfect blend of cool and classic. They know how to have fun, but they also lay down the rules. “It depends on the day and the situation, but I’d say I’m the bad cop,” says Ola, adding, “I’m stricter than Ahmed. I actually love that he is very patient, even when he’s angry. He knows how to handle the kids when they’re going through a burst of emotions or throwing a tantrum.” Ahmed, interjects, saying, “I really appreciate that Ola is very hands-on with the children’s school and studies, which is a lot to deal with. She can get mad sometimes, but that’s normal after a long day with them. She definitely does the heavy lifting in the family.” At which point, Mila decides to join the conversation. “They’re both equally strict,” she announces. “Mum is in charge of our studying, but dad helps with Arabic. Mummy is really bad at Arabic,” she adds with a laugh.
Despite the challenges of parenting, Ahmed and Ola have remained free spirits, though they admit that the fun and freedom in their lives was significantly cut down when they brought kids into the world. “Parenting changes you completely. Your priorities change, and you start paying attention to things you never thought about before, for their sake,” Ahmed explains.
“Having Mila and Doozi definitely taught us patience,” says Ola. “While becoming a mother didn’t affect my choice of acting roles, it did give me a great deal of life experience, which is very valuable. You learn more than you ever did before becoming a parent, and it makes it a little easier to tap into your emotions when you are acting,” she adds. At which point Mila elaborates, “Mummy is always crying. Even when I get into a fight with a friend of mine, she cries.”
Ola and Ahmed admit that they are continually trying to achieve the right balance between their personal and professional lives. “It’s quite difficult, of course. But the kids are starting to understand what it is we do for a living, especially since they see us on television or billboards, and they also come to set sometimes. We try our best to make it up to the children when work is slow, by spending as much time as we can with them. We usually travel after the Ramadan season and during the children’s summer vacation,” Ahmed reveals.
Ola and Ahmed are also fully aware that there is always a risk of the children becoming spoiled, when growing up with celebrity parents. “We try to teach them about what’s happening in the world around them, so that they appreciate the privileges they are enjoying. We do charity work and visit orphanages with them, so that they grow up to be compassionate human beings, and don’t take things for granted. We also like teaching them to be smart financially by giving them fixed allowances,” Ola declares.
Ahmed adds that they are also careful not to expose the children too much. “The interview and cover we’re doing today is very special, of course, but it’s important that we don’t do too many of these things with the children so that they don’t get used to the spotlight and think this is the norm. While we want them to know what our job entails, we don’t want them to think that fame is a priority in life. We will leave it to them to decide when they grow up if they want their faces to be out there in the public sphere or if they prefer more privacy,” says Ahmed, while Ola nods in agreement.
With 2020 marking their 10th year of marriage, Ola and Ahmed are both firm believers in the importance of quality time for themselves as a couple. “Every now and then, we make it a point to get away for a little while, which is healthy for our relationship. It is often for work trips and film festivals which we have to do, but we still have a good time,” says Ola.
So, what’s next for all the stars in this fun family? Well, Ahmed is currently starring in the horror film, Youm 13 (The 13th), written, directed and produced by Wael Abdullah. The all-star cast includes Dina Elsherbiny, Sherif Mounir, Arwa Gouda and Ahmed Zaher. It is the first film in Egypt and the Middle East to be filmed in 3D technology, coming out in Eid Al Adha, this summer.
Ola, on the other hand, will be appearing in two TV series this Ramadan season, one of which is Meet Wesh (A Hundred Faces), directed by Kamla Abou Zekry, and starring Nelly Karim and Asser Yassin. The second series is with Yasmine Abdel Aziz. Ola is also energetically working on a new season of her popular vlog, Weghet Mazar, which holds a special place in her heart. “It’s really great that through it, my kids can one day go back and watch actual documentation of themselves growing up. It also means a lot to me when I find out that the vlog is truly helping people with parenting issues,” she says with a smile.
With Mother’s Day coming soon, the family plans on spending it the way they do every year, with the grandmas. “We celebrate Mother’s Day by spending it with our mothers. We go to their homes to celebrate with them,” recounts Ahmed. “Ola is still a young mum; we’re not celebrating her just yet,” he adds with a laugh.
“But the kids do nice things for me on Mother’s Day, like buying me gifts or drawing sketches for me,” Ola interjects, gazing lovingly at her kids.
As for Mila and Doozi’s plans in the next few weeks, Mila is excited about an upcoming school trip to Alexandria, during which she’ll be celebrating her ninth birthday with her classmates. Meanwhile, Doozi took that Rubik’s Cube home with him, and will probably keep busy solving mathematical problems beyond his age level, one equation at a time.
Photography: Batool Al Daawi
Styling: Angie Neklawy
Location: Marina Home Interiors
Makeup by Caco Abdel-Nour
Hair by Toi Beauty Salon
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