There's no doubt Nadine Labaki is one of the best-known names in the Lebanese entertainment industry today.
The talented director, writer and actress first made headlines after directing the music video for Nancy Ajram's breakthrough hit — the song that put Ajram on the map, so to speak — Akhasmak Ah.
A few years and several projects later, Labaki has gone on to make a name for herself thanks to the global success of the 2007 independent movie, Caramel.
Now, the star can add the title of a brand ambassador to her resume as Labaki was recently chosen as the face for Olay Total Effects cream.
The star was in Dubai recently to talk about the project, and was ever the professional — despite feeling ill on the day — she didn't pull out of talking to tabloid! Here's what she had to say:
How did you get involved with this campaign?
Olay was looking for someone who is active, and is working and achieving things in her career, and is a mom. We filmed an ad campaign in Prague, which is now on TV, and I look forward to getting more involved with the brand in the region. I was absolutely delighted when Olay asked me to become involved with this campaign.
Your work for Caramel was well received. Did you expect the film — one of your first big projects — to be so successful?
Of course not. I mean, you do your thing hoping it will be successful in at least your own country. It was like a fairytale; nobody expected this huge success. But knowing that somehow you made the right choices, and chose the right subject just goes to show it can pay off.
Have the people in the industry started treating you differently?
Of course. Now I am part of the family of filmmakers in the world. When you say my name or mention Caramel, people in the industry recognise me. They're now waiting for my second film. It's huge. You don't expect this.
In your upcoming second film, you also act and direct. Tell us more about the film, and is it easy doing both at once?
Acting and directing is not easy at all — it is a very hard task. But in a way, it makes it easier to direct people, because in this film most of the people are not professional actors. So it makes you closer to them; I am at their level — I no longer am the director — so it makes them feel at ease.
Why do you like casting non-actors? Do you like showcasing new talent?
Actually no — it's not because I want to bring in new talent. I want to bring people from real life that are very interesting with interesting stories. I like to experiment with reality. I like to relate to normal people. That's why Caramel was so successful - people could relate to them. The film showed we're not a perfect world.
Bushra happy for her nation
A lot of celebrities have been speaking out since former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak resigned last Friday. One of them includes Bushra, who has expressed her joy after the people of Egypt managed to overthrow the government thanks to 18 days of largely peaceful protests. On her official Facebook page, the Egyptian actress explained that, until now, she had refused to accept condolences for her father's death from a heart attack in 2006. "Mubarak's regime caused my father great harm over his political beliefs, and now finally it has ended to begin a new era of freedom and true democracy," she said. Bushra's father, Dr Ahmad Abdullah Raza, was a political activist who rallied against Mubarak's regime that eventually led to political protests in the 1970s.
Amr Diab losing out on fans
Uh-oh. It seems like the once untouchable Amr Diab is losing a lot of fans following his disappearance during the Egyptian protests. The singer, whose fans are extremely loyal, has been attacked for reportedly leaving Egypt and flying to London during the unrest. Ex-fans have even gone on to create the Facebook page: "Goodbye Amr Diab — why don't you just stay at home?", featuring photos of Diab allegedly arriving at Heathrow Airport. Visitors have also called for the singer to retire — just like Mubarak. The Egyptian star has also been criticised for not making any public appearances during the protests, with others questioning why Diab did not release a song supporting the people of Egypt, like Mohammad Mounir did, for example.
Adel's damage control
Adel Imam is no longer a Mubarak supporter, surprise, surprise! In a new interview, the Egyptian actor said that he was surprised by the popular revolution that successfully forced former president Mubarak out of power. Imam added that, after witnessing the persistence of the demonstrators, he knew it was inevitable that Mubarak would step down. "I am impressed by the Egyptian youth that were successful in making their dream of freedom and democracy a reality," he said. Finally, Imam expressed his happiness at the success of the demonstrations. Scared to lose ticket sales, Imam?
khalid Abol Naga, actor
"All of us were determined to change Egypt once and for all to what it really deserves, to where it really belongs, to join the human civilisation once again — to be present, to be heard, to be free."
Mona Zaki, actress
"So proud to be part of something so important; and proud that someday my children will see the message I wrote in Tahrir during the revolution."
Amr Waked, actor
"Frankly, I think that the new president of Egypt should be a person who forever lived amongst us, and was subjected to humiliation like we were; witness bread becoming smaller and scarcer, and really felt the pain of people. We need a president with local expertise, not international one."
By Rachel McArthur