For this special edition we had to choose a special star. Not only is Asma Abulyazeid one of the most prominent upcoming actresses, she is also a very talented singer and one of the most beautiful faces on the screen. After spending a long day posing in some of the season’s trendiest wedding looks for our cover shoot, she sat down with eniGma’s Deputy CEO, Omnia Zaied for a chat about her journey ….
Growing up, Asma Abulyazeid certainly had no idea she wanted to act, let alone become a star. As a little girl, the closest she came to acting was when she read in class, using a different distinct voice for each of the characters in her reading passages. “My teacher was impressed by that, but I didn’t know why. I thought everyone could do that,” recalls Abulyazeid. Today, few can do what she currently does, namely take on several acting roles successfully and earn a Best Actress award, like the one she won at the Elia Short Film Festival for her role in Matelash An El Hageb (Eyebrows) in 2019.
Abulyazeid started acting when she joined the theatre group at the Faculty of Fine Arts where she was studying for her bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design. After participating in several plays, she realised how much she enjoyed acting. It was also there that producer Ahmed Medhat, who was working on one of her plays, was impressed by her talent, and encouraged her to audition for the role of Toka in the critically acclaimed 2017 TV series, Haza Al Masaa (This Evening), directed by Tamer Mohsen.
Abulyazeid couldn’t believe it when Mohsen called to inform her that she had landed the role of Toka. She was to portray a girl who was being blackmailed by a compromising video and was trying to retrieve the video from her blackmailer. Through the filming, Mohsen worked closely with her as she developed the character. “Mohsen really paid attention to every single detail, from how the character looks, to how she feels, even to her star sign. He really wanted to capture the essence of the character,” she recalls. His guidance helped her really own the character, and Abulyazeid became an instant hit with viewers who loved the way she acted, looked and expressed herself. This first role announced her professional acting debut and reserved a prominent place for her in the very competitive acting scene in Egypt.
Looking back wistfully at that time, Abulyazeid recalls how ironic it was that the series had been about phone hackers, and right after it aired, her own real life social media accounts were hacked. Happily, when she finally regained access to them, she saw that she had received a huge amount of messages from fans and friends who had watched and loved the show.
Abulyazeid went on to other roles in other TV series, including Ana Shahira Ana Al Kha’en (I am Shahira, I am the Adulterer) and Layali Eugenie (Eugenie Nights) both in 2018, as well as the short series, Zodiac, in 2019. In 2018, she also took on roles in movies, such as El Kwaissen (The Good People) and Eyar Nary (Gunshot), followed by El Mamar (The Passage) in 2019, and Al Harith (The Tiller) and Afrit Transit (Ghost in Transit) in 2020. In 2021 she took part in such films as Mousa, 30 Mares (30 March), Kamar 14 (Full Moon) and Bara El Manhag (Extra Curricular).
While she achieved much success in all the roles she played on TV and in film, what really put her on the map as a leading actress was her lead role in the Arabic adaptation of the TV show, Jane the Virgin (Al Anesa Farah) in 2019. The show, which ended recently, ran for five seasons and was behind what is now Abulyazeid’s massive popularity. “It was such a big responsibility, and at the beginning I was worried that I could get bored with the character as we went from one season to the next. But, that never happened. I enjoyed every minute of making it and we grew to become a family,” she explains.
In 2021, Abulyazeid went on to star in the third season of the very popular TV show, Al Ekhteyar (The Choice), followed by a leading role in the hit Ramadan series, Touba, alongside Amr Saad in 2022.
For someone as shy as Abulyazeid is in real life, her newfound fame, while a blessing, could be daunting at times. But she is fine with it, as long as she is doing what she enjoys most, which is acting in shows or films that she believes in. That is why she is very picky when it comes to the roles she plays. She doesn’t mind staying at home if she doesn’t find something she connects with. For her, it’s all about being convinced by the screenplay and feeling it. If she feels it, she will do it. If she doesn’t, nothing else matters, she just won’t do it.
Abulyazeid explains that despite her shyness, she really enjoys performing, whether on stage, TV or in a movie. She admits that it wasn’t easy at the beginning, but “you just do it.” She recalls how terrified she was at her first audition in university, but she did it anyway. Being on stage as an actress, she says, is a bit easier for her than as a singer, which she has also done. “When you act, you are on stage as someone else, but when you sing, you are there as yourself, which can be a little intimidating,” she says.
Which brings us to this young star’s other talent, namely singing. While being remarkably talented in acting, Abulyazeid sings pretty well too. This became known when she performed in Raghm El Masafa (Regardless of Distance) with Masaar Egbary in 2020. Yet, she had been singing long before that. She was part of the girl band Bahgaga, a women’s musical band that presents comedy monologues with oriental tunes. They were established in 2015 and are known for mixing singing with performing. Abulyazeid was one of the five leading singers of the band and she performed with them in several concerts. While she is now busy with her acting, she remains an honourary member of the popular band.
Looking ahead, Abulyazeid’s goal is to keep looking for her next inspiring role. “When I act, I want to always feel the joy of an amateur, but do it with the experience of a professional,” she says. While theatre has a special place in her heart, she also loves acting in movies, where a story is narrated in less than a couple of hours. She is also a fan of the new shorter format of TV series, consisting of 15, 10 and sometimes even just six episodes. She also dreams of starring in a musical one day. While her favourite musicals include Sweeney Todd, Chicago, and Mamma Mia, she knows that these may be a bit much for the Middle East. “It doesn’t have to be purely a musical per se, but something that is a mix of music and drama. I really would love us to do that in the Middle East,” she says.
Abulyazeid is currently filming Al Daawa Amma (Open to the Public) with Ahmed El Fishawy and Mohmed Abdel Rahman. She is also waiting for the release of Ashek (Lover), which she recently finished filming with Ahmed Hatem.
Makeup by Kareem Hanafy
Hair by Youssry El Abd
Fashion Assistant: Rwaida El Badry
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