Haifa Wehbe: a combination of talent, beauty, sex appeal and charm that make up one of of the Arab world's biggest pop stars.
The Lebanese bombshell made a name for herself in the Middle East and beyond thanks to her original style in music, creative music videos and more recently by unveiling her hidden acting talent.
Wherever Haifa goes, success follows, and that's true for her in every aspect of showbiz, whether it is in making music, movies, TV series or in the fashion world.
But that's not to say that Miss Wehbe isn't one to be controversial. Yes, controversy is a word that closely follows Haifa with many of the works she presents. Remember her nude dress that "broke the Arab Internet"? Or her x-rated movie "Halawet Rouh" (Rouh's Beauty) that was banned in Egypt?
Still, we, like millions of this diva's fans, can't wait to see what Haifa will do or say next. And Patrick Thedinga from Entertainment Scoop was lucky enough to sit down with the "Breathing You In" singer for a very exciting Q&A.
You started out in beauty pageants and modeling. Was that something that you always wanted to do?
HW: From a young age I knew that I wanted to be a performer and I understood that being in beauty pageants was a stepping stone to other areas of performance. From modeling I was able to “springboard” into singing with the initial release of three singles (I have since released eight albums) and then I branched out into acting. I have been in four very successful feature length motion pictures including “Halawet al-Rooh.”
What made you want to become a singer?
HW: As a young girl I was fascinated by the power of music – that by listening to a song I could overcome my sadness or better celebrate my joy and happiness. I discovered music could be a vehicle to express my emotions and to tell my story and that was very appealing to me.
The transition from modeling to singing is not something that happens too often (at least not in America); how did that transition come about for you?
HW: Music is a visual medium. It is driven just as much by sight as it is by sound. The ability to be comfortable in your own skin is required for every area of performance, whether it is modeling, singing or acting. I am so grateful that in my early years I had the foundation that came from being in beauty pageants and from modeling. The successes that I have achieved are really a reflection of a sound foundation. I am definitely someone who has paid her dues and worked hard for every accolade.
What were your musical influences growing up?
HW: My musical influences growing up were Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston. Now I really enjoy listening to Rihanna and my favorite songs of hers are “Diamonds”, “We Found Love” and “Only Girl (In The World).” I also like Britney Spears (“Womanizer”, “Gimme More” and “Till The World Ends”) and Chris Brown (“Run It”, “Look At Me Now” and “Turn Up The Music”).
You started acting a few years after you had already become famous through your singing career. At this point, do you enjoy one over the other?
HW: I could never say that I enjoy one over the other. I truly enjoy all forms of performance. I am very grateful for all of the opportunities that have allowed me to express my creativity. My fans get to see me in so many different forums. Whether I am appearing in a television series, a movie, in a fashion spread or in an arena – I have many places that I call “home” to my creativity.
You released your first English music video for “Breathing You In” recently. Why did you decide now was the time for a US release?
HW: I was very excited to introduce my latest music video to U.S. audiences who may not be familiar with my previously released music. I was so happy to see such a positive response to my music video. I was really proud of the production value of the music video – it was a multi-day shoot using a large crew. I wanted fans, old and new, to get drawn into the music video so we went “high concept.” Today’s Pop artists like Taylor Swift and Lady GaGa are really pushing the envelope regarding music video concepts. I wanted to make sure that my video delivered visual impact.
What else do you have in store for your US crossover?
HW: Actually, I am excited for the release of my next two singles which are set to be “Habibi” featuring Ne-Yo and “Snake Charmer” featuring French Montana. It is not often that someone gets to live their dreams every day. I do not take this for granted at all. I hope to inspire others to dream big and to shrug off any fears or insecurities that may be holding them back. For me its about taking risks – lots of them. I want to continue to push myself to do things that are outside of my comfort zone. To have such a strong response to my English-language song gives me the courage to keep pushing boundaries personally and professionally.
What are you expecting your reception will be like here?
HW: So far, in the U.S., the reception has been very positive. I knew that I wanted to release an English-language song that had meaning and that reflected something deeper about how I live my life. The song is an anthem for how to manage day-to-day challenges; by breathing in and breathing out you can instantly find peace and create a permanent sense of calm. The lyrics reflect my personal philosophy about dealing with difficult times. Breathing, for me, is about finding my center; my balance.
You’ve won countless awards in the Middle East, but there are still critics of your work. What do you have to say to those that haven’t embraced your art?
HW: To be honest, it hurts when I read the negative comments in social media (which I try not to do too often). I understand where the “hate” and fear comes from. The world is changing and people are ultimately frightened by the unknown so they lash out and I regrettably am an easy target. I work at not taking it personal because the issues are much bigger than me. I am very lucky as a woman living in the Middle East to have a profession as a performer, entertainer, and artist so I can truly express myself. I hope that women in the Middle East will look at my life and dare to be true to their own dreams.
This Q&A was originally published on entertainmentscoop.com.
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