Egyptian superstar Yasmine Abdul Aziz stays down to earth
Yasmine Abdul Aziz is officially one of the coolest Arab celebs tabloid! has ever met. On Tuesday, the Egyptian actress was in Dubai to attend the premiere of her latest film Al Anessa Mamy at Vox Cinemas, Mirdiff City Centre. With this being her very first trip to the UAE, Yasmine, 33, had a lot to fit in within two days, including a press conference before the premiere. But due to scheduling conflicts, it was decided it would be cancelled leaving her with no time for an interview.
Now, normally this wouldn’t be an issue for the actor/actress in question. Refreshingly, it seemed to bother Yasmine, that tabloid! had turned up, only to find out the meeting had been cancelled.
“Come with me,” she said, taking me into the theatre where her film was showing. “Let’s wait for 10 minutes until they find a quiet office for us to chat, then we’ll do the interview. Popcorn?”
So there I was, sitting next to one of the most famous actresses in the Arab world, and sharing a snack with her. Fans will tell you that one of Yasmine’s best traits is that she is relatable — and having now witnessed how down-to-earth she is, it is easy to see why. Excerpts from the interview.
Q:Is this your very first time in the UAE?
A: Yes, it is my first time. I am here to attend the opening of the film, but I am here on a very short trip. I haven’t managed to do anything as I have been so busy, and haven’t really seen much of the country – and I don’t think I am going to have time. I think the next time I want to come with my husband and kids, and spend a proper holiday here. I wanted to come a few years ago for the premiere of Al Dada Doodey, but some issues came up and I had to be in Egypt at the time.
Q: How are you finding Dubai so far?
A: I am very happy to be here; it’s really nice to meet people from other countries and find out what they think of my films. It’s great meeting my Emirati fans, who have been so welcoming and lovely.
Q: What attracted you to the script in Al Anessa Mamy?
A: Generally, I like taking on films that explore current issues affecting people in Egypt. For Al Dada Doody, we delved into the topic of the maid and how she was looking after children who were growing up without a mother, and then in Al Thalasa Yeshtaghloonaha, Nabila was this excellent student, but had no idea what to do if she met a guy she fell in love with. For Al Anessa Mamy, we look at the issue of raising kids, and how Egyptians fall into trouble after getting married, because they don’t know what to do with a new baby. Then there’s also the issue of those women who don’t want to get married because they fear this. It’s a way of telling everyone, it’s not as bad as you think.
Q: They always say never work with children or animals – and your films always involve kids.
A; It’s one of the hardest things to do. However, I like the fact that I have created films that both children and adults can watch. And obviously, when we’re casting, we do tests to see how they will interact with me. And the way I interact with them comes from the experience of having two kids of my own!
Q: In Al Dada Doody, the kids did some terrible things to you…
A: Yes, and I hardly use a stunt double. It was so tiring, because any time I trip in the film, for instance I am obviously tripping in real life! I was in pain.
Q: You have two children, are they at an age where they understand what mum does?
A: Yasmine is 10 and Saif Al Deen is one-and-a-half. Yasmine saw this film and she really liked it.
Q: Does she comment on anything you do in films?
A: Yes, it’s quite funny, because I feel she is this little movie director in the making. She’s like, ‘Mama, you should have done this scene this way, instead of this way.’
Q: Would you let your children go into the film industry?
A: No, I really don’t want them to, especially now at a young age. I want them to enjoy their childhood. When they’re older, I might see a different point of view. I am just too protective now.
Q: You started out in commercials as a teenager. Do you miss those days at all?
A: I was 13 when I started, and yes, I miss those types of commercials, because only a few models did them and the audience knew who they were and the adverts were quite fun. I never really wanted to go into acting; it just came about by chance.
Q: Has the film industry changed over the past year?
A: Obviously, Egypt has seen some changes, but I don’t think films have changed. They’re the same as they were before. Thankfully, I have never had problems with censorship, because one of my principles is to create cinema that is suitable for all.
Q: Finally, what’s next for you?
A; I am currently reading some scripts, and looking at doing a romantic comedy – but something not involving children this time around. I don’t think I am going to do television, despite the fact everyone seem to do it last Ramadan. As for international roles, why not? If there’s a good Arab/Western collaboration happening, and the role is right, I’d very much like to do a foreign project.