Last Ramadan, Ayah Samaha, was hands down, the rising star who stole the show in two of the most popular Ramadan series, Kamel El Adad (Full House) and El Soffara (The Whistle). All of a sudden audiences took notice of her talent and screen presence, even though she had made her TV debut, as Doha, as early as 2016 in the hit Ramadan series, Grand Hotel, and had been making important strides in her career since then. eniGma’s Salma Mohamed caught up with Samaha to learn about her career journey and her recent successes and challenges.
Instantly charming everyone, Ayah Samaha arrives for our interview looking stylish and wearing her signature big, beautiful smile. Our chat starts with her recent successes in no less than two series this Ramadan, and Samaha joyfully recounts her favourite memories with the casts of these two series. When we turn to her acting career, she explains that, like many other actors, she got started by doing commercials. “I wasn’t really interested in the actual commercials, but I was doing it for the sake of acting. I had always been very passionate about acting and felt very comfortable in front of the camera,” she explains. “I basically hide behind the character I’m portraying. It’s one of my favourite things about acting,” she adds.
Samaha explains that there weren’t any workshops at the time she started her career, and she was still too young to get into acting school. Commercials were her only way into the field. As she got older, workshops became a thing, so she started taking acting seriously. She went to as many workshops as she could, and these led her into auditions.
Samaha recalls that the movie that got her really interested in acting and made her want to be a part of that world was, El Basha Telmiz (The Student Cop). “I really love this movie. It’s one of my favourite movies of all time. I saw how close the cast were, and how much fun they had making the movie, so I wanted to be part of that world,” she exclaims.Her dream came true in 2016 when she was cast in the big TV production, Grand Hotel, alongside big stars, including Amr Youssef, Amina Khalil, and Sawsan Badr. “It was the first thing I ever auditioned for, and I found out that auditioning wasn’t easy. It took me multiple times to finally get cast as Doha in Grand Hotel,” she says. She is quick to add that the director, Mohamed Shaker, is one of the people who influenced her most in her career.
Samaha also recalls being in a short series called Zay El Qamar (Like The Moon). The series includes several different short stories; she took part in the story Benna Etefak (We have a deal), playing Hosna. “It is my favourite role! She was an uneducated girl who sold books on the street, and I had the freedom and space to explore myself in a role like this.” The character was very different from previous roles Samaha had played. People could not believe it was her and they continue to ask her for a sequel to Hosna’s story.
“I honestly feel most comfortable portraying characters that aren’t like me,” she says, as she also recalls people’s reaction to her role in Ma Wara’a Al Tabe’a (Paranormal). At first no one could really tell it was her as Howayda, but she got much praise and recognition for her part in the success of the series. “I don’t know why I weirdly feel lost when they tell me a character is similar to me,” she adds.
Last Ramadan, Samaha appeared in two of the season’s most successful series, Kamel El Adad (Full House) as Zozo, and El Soffara (The Whistle) as Sherine. Both characters she portrayed are familiar to people in their own lives. Her natural acting drew the most recognition she’s had in a while and got everyone talking about her. “I had the most fun making these shows. We had the most laughs and felt like a true family, especially in Kamel El Adad. In El Soffara, it was so funny behind the scenes with these comedy geniuses. I feel like a sponge around them. I absorb so much from the people around me and I am constantly learning so much from them,” she recalls.
Samaha confirms that her husband, Mohamed El Sebai is her strong support system and her inspiration in life. Her sister Menna, producer Nahed Farid Shawki who is her mother-in-law, and actress Nahed El Sebai also form a huge part of her support system who prove her with much inspiration as well. “They are my family, they are everything to me, I’ve always looked up to them. Nahed and I have been friends, even before I got married. I love being around her and all of them. I care about their opinions the most, and I get back to them with any project I take part in,” she says. Samaha is working on a project with her husband and sister called Zoza, but it is still in the building stage. “It’s my dream project and can’t wait to make it happen,” she exclaims.
“I love acting more than anything in the world,” says Samaha in conclusion. “ I am very passionate about it, and I always want to get better in everything I do.”