After portraying so many diverse female characters in cinema and on television, with the birth of her beautiful baby girl, acclaimed Syrian actress, Kinda Alloush has recently embarked on her most important role to date. Needless to say, we knew that as a new mother she would be very busy taking care of her newborn child and it would be difficult to pin her down for our March cover feature dedicated to mothers and strong women. That is why we were thrilled that Alloush agreed to take the time for an eniGma exclusive cover shoot with her baby. Alloush also graciously agreed to sit down with eniGma’s Nayera Yasser for an exclusive interview during which she opened up about her career journey and her newfound joys and responsibilities as a mother.
Warm, sincere and beautiful are a few of the words often used to describe Kinda Alloush. With her big honest eyes and her impressive talent, Alloush has captured the hearts of audiences in the Arab world ever since her earliest acting roles more than a decade ago. Born and raised in Hama, Syria, Alloush was always attracted to art, even though she never anticipated an acting career. “As a little girl, I used to love putting on theatrical performances for my family. I would write the script, create a wardrobe with whatever clothes I could find around the house, and act in front of the whole family,” says Alloush. “But it took me a very long while to even think that this would be something I could seriously do. Eventually, when I grew older, I joined the Higher Institute for Dramatic Arts in Damascus where I majored in theater criticism. After graduating, I found my way to production and directing. “ she adds.
After a few stints with production and directing crews, Alloush’s debut as an actress came when Syrian director Rasha Shurbatji unexpectedly offered her a role in the TV series, Ashwak Naiema (Soft Thorns), which aired in 2004. The success of the series brought Alloush to the attention of Arab audiences all over the region, launching her career as a serious actress. From there, she went on to participate in about 30 TV series and 11 movies, where she portrayed a rainbow of complex and fierce female characters.
Alloush’s big breakthrough with Egyptian audiences came when she played the role of Dalia in the hugely successful, Ahl Cairo (People of Cairo) in 2011. This was followed by several roles in Egyptian cinema and television, the most memorable for Alloush being that of Amira in Wahed Saheeh (A Whole One), along with Hani Salama and Basma, Nehal in the TV series, Neran Sadeeka (Friendly Fire) with her future husband, Amr Youssef, and Fotna in the TV series, Afrah AlQobba (Wedding Song), with Mona Zaki, Eyad Nassar and other important actors. Alloush says that every time these three roles are brought up in her presence she smiles with immense satisfaction. She feels that each of these roles changed her perspective on life in some way. Alloush is quick to add that, as memorable as they have been, however, it is her newest role as a mother that has now taken hold of her emotions and aspirations.
Looking back to 2016, it is hard to forget the excitement that came with the announcement of the marriage of Kinda Alloush to Egyptian actor and heartthrob Amr Youssef. Even more excitement followed when the popular couple celebrated the birth of their first child last November.
People always say becoming a mother is a life altering experience, and Alloush fully agrees with that. After spending months reading books on motherhood and listening to her friends’ experiences, the actress says she never quite understood what they meant and how it would change her until she became a mother herself.
“People always described motherhood as the best feeling in the world, but you will never really know how great it truly is, until you become a mother. The responsibility of nurturing and bringing up a human being is life changing. I want my daughter, Hayat, to have the best food, the best care, and the best education!” Alloush exclaims. She adds that Hayat, has rapidly become the center of her universe, and that her name, which translates to “Life” in English, really reflects how much she means to her. She has become her life. Recalling how the couple came to choose the name, Alloush says, “My grandmother’s name was also Hayat. We used to be quite close and she was the epitome of love and kindness. However, the name did not occur to me until Amr’s sister suggested it.”
While Alloush is the first to admit that her short temper is her biggest flaw, she says that Hayat has already taught her to be more patient and flexible. Being a new mum has also meant that her fast-paced lifestyle has been replaced with quiet home-based evenings. Like other new mums, she’s also completely occupied with her new baby, especially since she prefers not to hire a nanny. “When I first gave birth, I could only trust my mother with the baby. She helped me a lot until I settled down and could take care of things myself. Now, it is just Hayat and me figuring out our routine. Perhaps when she is a little older I will be able to hire some help,” says Alloush, who has cancelled quite a few outings and meetings in the past few months to cater to her highest priority.
Clearly, having a baby has inevitably also brought with it a hiatus in Alloush’s thriving acting career. “I am giving my career an open break,” says Alloush. “I really need to be completely dedicated to Hayat now, especially because I chose to breastfeed her. I could not deny her the right to be breastfed just so that I could have a more flexible daily routine. For me this choice was a natural and obvious thing to do,” she adds.
It’s been just about four months since the arrival of little Hayat and naturally Alloush is still coping with the changes mothers often experience during and after pregnancy.
While she doesn’t say she has personally experienced that, Alloush is well aware of the potential seriousness of pregnancy depression. “It is no joke; it is quite real, and we have to support women who suffer from it,” says the actress. Accordingly, Alloush was aware of the importance of maintaining a positive mindset during her pregnancy and right after giving birth. “At the beginning, I tried to control my weight, but soon enough I decided that gaining weight was a part of the experience and that made it completely okay. I wanted to experience the full spectrum of the journey,” she explains.
Alloush quickly adds, “Nonetheless, I was very active during my pregnancy and I didn’t face any difficulties while delivering.” She still maintains an active daily agenda with her baby, whether it is regular morning walks, reading bedtime stories every night, or listening to music together.
“I can’t wait until she can walk, talk and play around. She brings so much joy into our lives every single day. It is just amazing,” says Alloush, who admits that she enjoys new toys and games as much as her daughter does.
Understandably, Alloush has chosen to keep her daughter away from the cameras to maintain the family’s privacy and to enable them to enjoy their baby away from prying eyes. This has also meant that Alloush, who is a digital influencer with more than five million followers on Instagram, is keeping Hayat away from the cyber world. While she has previously been known to share regular professional and personal updates as well as candid selfies with her husband, the actress thinks it is way too early to put Hayat in contact with social media. “ I have a huge fan base that I absolutely cherish, even though I rarely ever share content related to fashion or makeup. I use this digital fan base to contribute to the community through highlighting organisations worthy of their support,” explains Alloush.
Starting a new beautiful chapter in their life with the arrival of their bundle of joy, Alloush and her husband decided to move to a new house that would be more fitting for their growing family. Mum enjoys arranging the tiniest details around the new house, with Hayat in one arm, of course. Fully invested in her domestic life, Alloush runs her fingers through Hayat’s soft hair, as she concludes, “All of my attention now is on the baby. I want her to be independent, loving, and well educated. I want her to have a strong personality and never settle for less. I want her to love all kinds of people and not to be raised on discrimination.”
Who is your ultimate dream dinner guest?
Tamer Habib; he is a good friend of Amr and me.
Who is your role model?
My mother. Now that I have become a mother myself, I appreciate her even more.
What is your favourite go to place when you are not working?
Anywhere by the sea. I favour nature in general.
What is your worst habit?
Being nervous and impulsive. I also spend long hours on the phone.
What is your best attribute?
I learn very fast.
What is your favourite thing about your job?
As a sensitive person, I love having the opportunity to experience different feelings, whichever I may not come across during my daily life.
If you were not an actress, what would have been your dream job?
Anything that would involve working with children.