A month or so ago, Jamila Awad was an unknown; but as Ramadan comes to a close, the young actress has made a huge impact on the industry, having shot to fame as part of the huge ensemble cast in what transpired to be the most talked about mosalsal of the year, Ta7t El Saytara.
Cairo Gossip’s Mahmoud Hussein sat down with Awad to talk about playing a druggie, the follies of social media, caffeine and more.
Tell us more about Ta7t El Saytara – how did you manage to get the part?
I’ve loved Nelly Karim since I was a child – so it was meant to be! I’d never really discussed my passion for acting with anyone beforehand; but it was always in the back of my head. Out of the blue, a friend suggested that I go to the audition. I actually had an exam that day, but I went to the audition and the rest is history.
The series was one of the most talked about in Ramadan. How were things behind the scenes?
It was like family. I think it’s how it is in this industry. You spend so much time with the cast and crew that you instantly become family. It’s always about cooperation.
The green-eyes of Ta7t El Saytara (Photo: Jamila Awad)
Was it difficult to play a character like Hanya – do you share any similarities with her?
I’m not selfish at all. I consider myself to be very shy person and I’ve never smoked – I hate it.
The most confusing period was before shooting; working on moulding myself into someone else and being them, without judging, so I can see them as real people. Dr. Mohamed Abdel-Hadi, an acting coach, taught me that the most important thing for an actor is to never judge the characters they’re playing.
How did your parents react? Were they shocked?
No, not at all. They’re artists in their own right, so they understand. They were really pleased for me and supported me throughout.
You’ve shot to fame pretty quickly – how do you deal with all the publicity?
I’m a total mess. When I meet people in the street, it’s easy. Social media, however, is something else altogether. I’ve never been a particularly active person on social media – since the beginning of Ramadan, I’ve only posted one picture on Instagram and I’ve only recently understood what hashtags are for! I’m the type of person that leaves their phone for days without looking at it.
Now that you’re part of it, what do you think of the TV and movie industries in Egypt?
I feel like there are too many agendas controlling them. The production values aren’t the same and the Egyptian film industry isn’t what it used to be. But I also feel like we’re in a better place than we were post-revolution – some of this year’s Eid movies look good.
Let’s get pretentious – what inspires you?
A lot of people have inspired me over my lifetime. When I was a kid, my first inspiration was Nelly Karim. I love Salah El Deen El Ayoubi, I love Ghandi, Angelina Jolie – they’re all inspirational to me and so is my father. There is no ‘ultimate role model’. I have bits and pieces from everyone.
What type of movies/music are you into?
I love black and white movies – even as a kid. Same goes for music – I enjoy some oldies every now and again.
As a novice in the acting game, what are you hoping to achieve in the future?
My career is just a tool to achieve my humanity. My future is unknown. Whatever field I can express myself in is the one who you’ll find me in.
We hear you have a strange relationship with coffee…
Yeah – whenever I drink coffee I go nuts. What would be considered a normal dose of caffeine for most people sends me into overdrive – it’s like giving caffeine to a kitten. My friends often have to explain to people who don’t know me that I just had my coffee. It can get weird.
Stay up to date with all things Jamila on her official Facebook page.
By Mahmoud Hussein