As if hit by a hurricane, Arab viewers in the early 2000s witnessed Razan El Moghrabi burst onto the scene with her boundless energy. With infinite charm and a ton of charisma, the brash petite blonde entertainer went on to intrigue the region’s TV audiences for over two decades, never losing her appeal, yet often finding herself amid controversy. Razan bravely embraced the ups and downs of her career and her many fans loved her for it! A true all-round entertainer who keeps everyone talking and guessing at what’s coming next for her, Razan is the perfect cover star of this Entertainment issue for eniGma. True to form, this “entertainer par excellence,” energetically took on summer fun head-on in a colourful and vibrant poolside photo shoot at the beautiful Nile Ritz-Carlton hotel in Cairo. When she was done posing for the camera and laughing with the crew behind the scenes, she sat down with eniGma’s Ezz Al-Turkey for a candid and eye-opening interview.
Razan has the ability to captivate any crowd, whether she’s on stage, on live TV or performing a hit song. On a personal level, I was struck by her friendliness and openness when we first met on the morning of the shoot. And although the shoot started early in the morning, she arrived full of excitement and energy, a rare feat for many celebrities who usually like to ease into the day at their own pace. Razan could barely sit still, as she mingled and chatted with everyone around her as she was readied for the cameras. A perfectionist at heart, her attention to detail and her eagerness to create art meant that, at times, she was brutally honest with people she was meeting for the first time. Not surprisingly, she revealed even more candid commentary during our interview as well.
When everything was finally ready for the shoot, the bubbly Razan walked out in a colourful striped mini dress with a huge flowy pink, blue and red cape – causing heads to turn and hotel guests to stop and watch. All eyes were on her as she stunned in every outfit that followed and she loved every second of it. After a long day posing under Cairo’s hot June sun, she switched back to her own summer dress, let down her hair and was ready to get serious for our chat.
While Razan likes having fun and revels in being carefree, surprisingly, she’s also quite philosophical. To really understand her, you need to take a look back to her childhood. As a child, she grew up in Beirut at a time of war, spending much time in shelters and listening to the terrifying sounds of the missiles and gunfire. Despite that, when recalling her childhood, she focuses on the good times. “I was a happy artistic child who was loved very much. I’m a mix of my wise lawyer dad and my mom – the epitome of love. Because of the war, we had to travel a lot to different countries and I had to switch schools a lot growing up. While the effect could have been traumatic, it was not, from my perspective. It turned out to be good for my growth,” she recalls.
Growing up during these rough times taught Razan to appreciate the important things in life. Money and a lavish way of living don’t matter to her, and she doesn’t care about the material side of being an entertainer. “I never loved buying things just to have them and I don’t really care about owning things or splurging. I lost all my jewellery in the war. What matters to me are the things I can’t lose, like my happiness and good memories. I like to hang on to the things that no one can take away from me, my memories and what makes life, life. I learned that very early on and I focused on it,” she explains.
Central to Razan’s philosophy of life, is to focus on becoming the best at whatever she does. She got her first gig as a TV presenter in 1992 and she continued working on her craft, landing jobs left and right, until she became a household name with an extensive roster in both TV and film. These included the successful TV programs, Deal or No Deal and El Hayah Helwa (Life’s Beautiful), and the hit films, Harb Italia (Italy’s War) alongside Ahmed ElSaka and Nelly Karim and Hassan Tayara (Hassan Airplane) alongside Khaled Elnabawy. Razan also became a popular pop diva, with hits like Law Hob Da (If this is Love), still being played in clubs to this day. With her varied skills, she became a unique phenomenon, assiduously created by her own self.
It’s 2021 now, and Razan feels that the entertainment industry is very different than what it was in the 2000s. She laments the effect of social media and how success is measured nowadays. “It has become a race towards the biggest number of followers, or the higher number of likes,” says Razan and she doesn’t want to have any part in it. “Social media is very fake. People are applauded now for anything. They are fabricating their lives for likes and it’s very materialistic. I don’t want to become that; I refuse to!” she exclaims.
While stars of her calibre usually use their platform to preach a message that’s important to them, Razan has a different view. “What I want to spread is happiness. That’s my message. I don’t want to be pretentious or get too preachy. I’m here because I love my job and what I do, and I want to make people happy through my work,” she says.
While she admittedly makes a lot of people happy through her work, like any successful artist, she also gets her fair share of criticism. Admirably, Razan admits she has been embroiled in some controversy over the years, and she embraces it. “Controversy is my middle name!” she says proudly, with a chuckle. “I really love having people discuss what I do. I’m very honest, outspoken and loud, and I love it!” she exclaims.
Being so controversial, however, doesn’t come without risk. But Razan does what she wants, regardless. Having lived in so many different countries and worked with so many different people, her life is her own and no one is taking that away from her. To explain her attitude, she refers to a piece of advice that a certain Shakira once gave her. “She told me, ‘you’ve known yourself the longest, no one knows you more than you know yourself!’ I’ve known myself for 25 years, since the day I was born!” she cheekily jokes, with a giggle.
More than 20 years into her career, Razan has indeed grown professionally and has achieved much success. Despite that, she is not satisfied with where her career is currently at. She wants more out of life and out of her career. “I want to work with so many people. They don’t have to be famous or huge, they just have to be passionate. There’s so much content to be created and there’s so much more that I can do. I just need a team that would be down to do that with me. Everyone focuses on the glamorous and they want everything to be high-end. I just want to make something that’s great!” she exclaims.
Despite her frustrations, Razan is still always booked and busy with work. In 2020, she went back to Beirut to film the successful Ramadan gameshow, Eghleb ElSaka (Beat the Star), which was an onscreen reunion with her Harb Italia co-star, Ahmed ElSaka. Earlier this year, she also took part in the hit show, Moheeb Wa Razan Fi Ramadan (Razan & Moheeb in Ramadan,) with acclaimed sports presenter Moheeb Abdel Hady.
Being famous also puts pressure on her to be everywhere, at the same time. “To what extent can you sell your soul to the devil?” she asks rhetorically. “I don’t like going to every event and every red carpet. It can seem like you’re selling a dream that isn’t even real. I never did all of that to get what I want. Maybe it would have made a difference maybe it wouldn’t have. The only way is to go back and do them. I don’t want to go to glitz and glam events; I just want to be home. We’re rating people based on factors that don’t really matter; we’re wasting our lives. Where is your soul? In 30 years, you’re going to look in the mirror and not know who you are,” she cautions.
When Razan is not dazzling on our screens, she’s at home with her family, raising her seven-year-old son. “I don’t have a nanny, I don’t have a maid and I don’t have a driver. I do everything myself at home. I’m working 24/7. If it’s not on projects, then I’m working at home. I got so lucky with my family. I’m very energetic and my husband is very chill, which is a perfect blend!” she happily explains.
As she looks ahead, Razan is more in touch with herself than ever before. She knows exactly what she wants to do with her career and what she wants to avoid completely. She is currently working on new music and hints at some new acting projects. What’s more important to her, she says, is to work on getting back to her roots and continuing to figure out who she is at her core. In conclusion she says, “I was meant to be alone; I think. I love my own company. I also want to start doing things, work more, and be a part of every single thing I work on. I’m a perfectionist, I’d rather do things myself and I work on everything the best way I can.”
Photography: Khaled Fadda
Styling: Hoda Wahby
Location: Nile Ritz-Carlton
Makeup by Alaa Eltonsy
Hair by Bishoy at Al Sagheer Salons
Shahira Lasheen: 5 Ibrahim Naguib, Qasr El Nil, 11519, Cairo, Egypt.
Tel: +(20) 1000500527
Ahmed Abdullah: www.instagram.com/ahmedabullah_official
El Baz Jewelry: 66 Ahmed Orabi st. Ain Shams, Cairo, Egypt.
Tel: (+202) 226988240
Egypt Gold: 3 Abd El-Salam Zaki, Heliopolis, Cairo, Egypt.
Tel: (+20) 1222493806