This past Ramadan was different from any other we’ve seen so far. Not only because it was spent mostly at home, but because the Ramadan TV series race included so many fresh faces that drew our attention and captivated our hearts. So, this being eniGma’s entertainment issue and with summer in full swing, we decided to celebrate by bringing together five of these fresh stars for a fabulous photoshoot on Egypt’s North Coast. We admit, it was hard to choose just five, but we ended up with the perfect selection for this shoot: Laila Zaher, Tayam Amar, Lella Fadda, Hassan Malek and Hana Daoud. eniGma’s Ezz Al-Turkey sat down with each of them to discuss their budding careers and their journeys to the limelight.
Lella Fadda, the breakout star of this year’s Ramadan show, El Prince, walked out of her dressing room in a breathtaking red jumpsuit looking effortlessly stunning. When she went on to pose in front of the camera, it was obvious that she felt right at home in front of the flashing lens. This young actress exuded a level of confidence that is bound to take her places.
Right off the bat, when she sat for our interview the conversation got going; and once it kicked off, it was hard to stop. It turns out that being in front of the camera was not what came to her mind first when starting her career. “My first workshop was actually to improve my skills in songwriting. Then, a lot of people advised me to go to acting workshops. When I started going they made me do acting exercises like interviewing me as a different character; I had to answer questions as another person.”
Fadda landed her debut role in El Prince surprisingly quickly, she recounts. “The director, Mohamed Samy wanted an innocent-looking girl who could sing. I was recommended for the role and I auditioned for Mohamed Abdelsalam, the co-director. The next day I was signing the contract! There were a lot of girls auditioning for this role and somehow I got it,” she explains with pride.
When our conversation eventually veered towards music, her eyes lit up and Fadda sat up straight as she extolled how music was her main passion in life. Her role in El Prince, where she got to play one of her own songs, El Wa’t Mesh Byaady (Time Doesn’t Pass) was also her big break in music. “When it comes to music, that’s the real me; I’m completely myself in my songs. There’s so much work that goes into a single song, I want recognition to reach every single person who worked on the song!” she exclaims. Fadda also exclusively shared with us that the song will officially drop sometime this month.
Fadda insists that she likes doing things her way—through and through. She is not concerned with what people think. “What’s the worst that could happen? What’s the worst case scenario? People worry about that but it doesn’t scare me. I do always seek other opinions and criticism of a song before I release it. But once the song is out, it’s done—I tune everyone out,” she confesses.
So, what can fans expect from Fadda next? “I have six songs produced by Ahmed Elian which will be released this year,” she reveals, adding, “I’m also doing something really fun and different with Molotof. I hope people accept the new musical wave I’m trying to head into.”
We’ve watched Laila Zaher grow in front of our eyes since she first appeared as a young child in Tamer Hosny’s film Captain Hima. With that start, Zaher, who is the daughter of actor Ahmed Zaher, became one of the most beloved child actresses in Egypt at the time. Now, Laila is 16 years old and is venturing back into acting after a six-year hiatus.
While her reentry into acting was a success, she admits it obviously is different from her earlier experience. Her recent role in the TV series, El Fetewa (The Thug) was a major success and it put Zaher back on the map. “Acting now is so different. When I was a cute baby, acting didn’t actually count as real acting. Now every little thing I do counts,” says Zaher.
Although Zaher the child actress was missed, the logic behind her disappearance from the screens for those years made complete sense. “My father believed that this absence would allow audiences to make a separation between the child and the adult actress. I came back in El Fetewa, which, thankfully, was successful and people loved me in it,” she explains.
An experienced actor himself, her dad was a bit hesitant about her returning to acting before she finished her education. Zaher recounts that after reading the script himself, and a bit of convincing from her, he agreed and was supportive all the way. “When dad read the script, he liked it and he agreed. It was the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I had waited for this moment for years. I was a little bit scared at first as my first scene was with Yasser Galal. He is a great person, though, and he always joked and gave me advice. It felt like I was working with a father figure,” she recalls with a smile.
Zaher’s role in the series was clearly unlike anything she had done before. While years ago she was making us laugh with her adorableness, as a teenage actress she really got in touch with a side of her that we weren’t familiar with. She explains that it took a lot of studying of the character to be in touch with the role, “I put myself in the character’s situation and imagine how I’d feel if it was me. It is a bit hard and it can get tiring, but that is what I’m supposed to do and I love doing it.”
Hassan Malek doesn’t sit still. The 17 year-old young man has so much energy, it just can’t be contained. Although still a senior in high school, Malek is already on his way to becoming one of the most prominent teen actors in Egypt. After his breakout role in Lebet El Nesyan (The Forgetting Game), the buzz around him just won’t die down. “When I was young, I used to do puppet shows for my family. When I got older, I took acting classes in school and it seemed to work out for me,” says Malek, who also got to watch his older brother, Ahmed Malek, become a big name in the industry.
Recounting how he landed his debut role of Mazen, Malek explains, “I made a TikTok with my brother. That’s where Hany Khalifa first saw me and casted me. It changed the course of my life and what I was going to study in college. I was going to major in computer science and minor in theatre or business. Now, after I played the role and got my foot in the door, I decided that my first major will be theatre, and the minor will be business or computer science, as a backup career, just in case.”
Acting alongside big names like Dina El Sherbiny and Ahmed Dawood on the show was exciting and the two stars were nothing but supportive to him. Malek recounts, “Dina is one of the nicest people, it was really a joy working with her. No one was full of themselves, we all felt close. But the person I clicked with the most was, of course, Hana Daoud.”
It’s actually kind of hard to talk about Malek’s character, Mazen, without Hana Daoud’s Tamara. The two are the viral teen couple that fans couldn’t stop buzzing about on social media. “Hana and I talked on the phone before we met. We immediately bonded and got to know each other. So when I saw her on set, we just clicked. We were always together on set; we became a duo,” says Malek. The chemistry between them on the set of our photoshoot was also undeniable, but it was more of a brother-sister dynamic.
Playing Mazen was a challenge for Malek, given that the character came with a lot of baggage. Nonetheless, Malek proved to be up to the challenge and delivered an emotional performance. Looking back on this experience, he explains, “On camera, I’m completely Mazen all the time. There is no Hassan anymore. I get totally into the zone before we start shooting. I also always rehearse, which is very important to me, so as to get all the facial expressions right and to avoid nervousness.”
Looking ahead, it’s clear that Malek definitely has something coming soon, but he couldn’t reveal anything at this point. We’ll have to wait a bit to know what’s next for this young actor bursting with energy.
Hana Daoud has it all, grace, beauty and talent. She also has a pleasant personality, and seems to have made friends with everyone on the set of the shoot, chatting and joking with everyone with ease. When she had a break in between her shoots, we sat down for our interview and Daoud was nothing short of delightful.
Daoud is 20 years old, but looks much younger. She conducts herself with obvious grace, which she may have acquired from being a young ballerina. In fact, ballet is something she has in common with the character of Tamara, the breakout role she played in the Ramadan TV series, Lebet El Nesyan (The Forgetting Game). “I’ve been dancing ballet for more than twelve years, so I think that’s why I fit in for the role of Tamara. It’s kind of weird; I feel like everything I worked on led up to that moment, to my debut role,” says Daoud, who feels that fate definitely lent a hand in getting her to where she is today.
Tamara’s character in the series was an emotional train wreck, to say the least, and was quite a challenge for an actress as her debut role. But Daoud’s studies of theatre and psychology at the American University in Cairo had prepared her somewhat for the task. Her years as a ballerina also seem to have taught her a lot about acting. “When I was dancing ballet, my trainer would always tell me ‘the most important thing is your facial expressions.’ I grew to love expressing emotions and reactions. That’s how I realised that I loved acting. So, as soon as I went to college, I told my parents that I wanted to go into acting. Fortunately, they were totally supportive, and that’s how it all started,” she explains.
Daoud’s first acting gig turned out to be a hit, and generation Z simply ate up every second of Daoud’s scenes in the series. Her instant success didn’t get to her head, however, and Daoud remains grounded and down to earth. “That’s how I was raised,” she says confidently, adding, “Working with Madame Ragaa El Gedawy in the series also taught me the importance of talking nicely and treating people with dignity. My family always instilled these values in me, but she also inspired me a lot.”
Daoud couldn’t have dreamt of a better start to her acting career and we have a premonition that the best is yet to come. As for her next step, Daoud shared with eniGma that she’s looking forward to taking part in an exciting new series that’s set to air this winter. Details are still hush-hush though.
Tayam Amar landed his first big acting role in last Ramadan’s Kheyanet Ahd (Ahd’s Betreyal), alongside acting legend Yousra. But this was not his first foray into acting. The son of the famous singer, Mustafa Amar, first made a small appearance in his father’s film Bahebak Wana Kaman (I Love You, Me Too) in 2003. Although the film had major early 2000s campy vibes, Tayam Amar makes light of the film (which later became a meme) and cherishes it to this day. This, however, was only the beginning for Amar. Now, in 2020, he’s 23 years old and making headlines with his recent role on TV.
The thing about Amar is, he doesn’t take himself too seriously. On-set, he was cracking jokes and laughing throughout the day. But when it came to our interview and we started talking about acting and his passion for art, he became very serious. “With acting, you throw yourself off the deep end and test yourself. What I do in life, and my career as well, is to never plan for the big hits or try to expect what’s going to happen. I like to put myself in a new state that I haven’t been in before,” he explains, “Because of my father, my attachment to acting was very strong. The thing about the entertainment industry is that you’ll either love it or hate it. For me, I clung to it. I feel a calling for this art,” he adds.
While Amar grew up as the son of one of the biggest singers in Egypt, he remains humble and gives off the-boy-next-door vibes. He is also extremely social and outgoing, which is a far cry from Ali, his character in the TV series. “I always try to put myself in the character’s place. How would I act if I was in this situation? Bringing the idea closer to me makes me feel it deeply. I have to get into the character’s personality and the way he thinks,” Amar explains. “While it’s not easy, I then leave the mindset of the character behind when I leave the set. If an actor doesn’t do that, it starts to affect his personality,” he adds.
Looking ahead, Amar revealed that he will be sharing the screen with his father once again, in the sequel of the classic comedy Hareem Karim (Karim’s Ladies). While he says the sequel is in the early stages of production, Amar did not elaborate on the role he will be playing in the film. Whatever it is, clearly Amar is looking for a challenge. “I want to do everything; I don’t like sticking to one genre. I think actors should feel up to portraying all types of characters,” he concludes.
Photography: Ahmed Mobarez
Styling: Angie Neklawy
Location: Fouka Bay
Hairstyling at Toi Beauty Salon
Make Up Artist: Sara Yasser
Fashion Assistant: Maha Abdel Kader
Assistant Photographer: Ibrahim Fathy
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