Dalia El Beheiry is one of the most sought after actresses of her generation who looks back on a decent track record of cinema and TV. Only few manage the transition from catwalk to box office glory so delicately and successfully. With a great sense of style and lightheartedness this beautiful power woman is the centre of attention. We met at her cozy home to catch up on fashion, film, fame and why girl’s just wanna have fun!
When I entered her apartment I was overwhelmed by the fantastic trendy modern interior that reflected vivacity and simplicity yet refrained from celebrating her very own beauty with her portraits, like many other celebs do. Pictures of Marylin Monroe and Audrey Hepburn decorate the walls, “I don’t like to fill my home with my own photos, I’m sorry but I think it’s disgusting. My home is where I run to, it’s my protection, the place where I see the real me. I like family albums and photos; it’s a place for family and not a studio”, she explains my wondering.
Since winning the title of Miss Egypt in 1990, Dalia climbed up the ladder of success with small calculated steps that slowly but surely gained her fame and recognition in the Arab world. Meticulously chosen scripts and roles reflect a powerful and smart persona. A sweetheart in “Mohamy Khola”(Divorce Laywer), a villain in “Ahlam Haqiqeya” (Real Dreams) and a glamorous patriot in “Al Sefara Fel Omara” alongside the legendary Adel Emam are all roles that add to her versatile repertoire. “I choose the roles that suit me, the roles that are different from the ones I’ve worked on before. I decide on what will add to my career and what will make me appear in a total different way even if the outline of the character is not different, the whole story must have a certain depth to it”, she adds.
With a general lack of character roles for women in Egyptian cinema today it is not easy to make good choices but Dalia is convinced that TV series do offer much more depth and character roles to women, “I think that well written roles are that of TV drama. There is more space and variety on TV, there is more consideration towards female roles in TV drama”.
A milestone in Dalia’s career is the TV series “Sarkhet Ontha” (Scream of a Woman), where she played a very controversial role. She portrayed Afifi, a woman trapped inside a man’s body in need of a genital operation. Despite the controversy of this issue and the lack of support and awareness among the society surrounding the character, Afifi struggled for his identity. “The role was extremely difficult. It was a taboo and shocking and I wanted a role that could highlight my work when I was around screen legends like Yousra, Elham Chahine, Yehia El Fakharany and Nour El Sherif. I was the first one in my generation with a leading role in Egyptian drama and I needed to work hard on that. I studied the character very well and read books about the common and different features of men and women, including how men and women would compose a sentence differently for example, can you imagine how detailed I got? (laughs)”.
When asking her about any taboo roles that she would not be willing to play it turns out that there are none. She strongly believes that the “message” delivered by the character is the most important thing to focus on, “I never say that there are some roles I refuse to play. As long as the character struggles to deliver a certain useful message I’m in. I could play a prostitute, but she must have something to say, something that speaks about her human side”, she comments.
Dalia worked with various directors from different schools, but there are some great directors out there that she dreams of working with, “I’d like to work with Yussry Nasrallah, Sherif Arafa and Wael Ehsan. I’d like to work with rising directors who have ambitions and potential. New talents add more power to the artistic motion. My dream directors would be Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese”, we learn.
Like all women living on our planet, Dalia has her priorities piled up and organized, “My daughter is the number one on my list of priorities, number two is my job and number three is family. Motherhood changed me a lot. I became a slow driver for example. I’ve always been a careful driver but when I had Qessmat, I became even more careful. With every penny I spend I think of her, I see her in front of me when I decide on my actions. I haven’t decided yet which school she will go to as to me education needs lots of consideration. It’s very important how to choose your child’s path of learning. About her artistic education, that will depend on what potential she has, she likes to draw and sing but I guess all kids do, so we will just wait and see”, she adds with a smile.
Last month, Dalia was appointed by the UNDP as a Goodwill Ambassador to create awareness for brain strokes and how to prevent them. “I’m trying to spread awareness as this diseases is the only disease that you could prevent if you knew how. There are strokes that could come and go peacefully and there are others that make people paralyzed. You could prevent this by practicing sports and taking care of your health by avoiding alcohol and cigarettes”, she continues.
Known for her fashion sense, Dalia tells us how she keeps up her sense of style, “I can go simple and I can go casual, I have so many different looks. I like sportswear and casual wear a lot, especially when I became a mum; I want to feel comfortable and fresh. I read books about fashion and I recommend Victoria Beckham’s “One And A Half Inch” this book is quite amazing. Like every other person, sometimes I have a bad fashion day but I accept that as well”. Although she doesn’t have a personal stylist, Dalia surrounds herself with what she calls a ‘professional team’ that consists of her make-up artist and hairdresser who brainstorm her fabulous looks, “it’s very important to have a team who help you put the look together. And by the way, not every single thing in my wardrobe is a designer label, yes I’m a big fan of Jean Paul Gaultier, Burberry’s accessories and Christian Lacroix but I also like simple plain things to play around and accessorize”.
For the upcoming years, Dalia has a list of wishes that she wants to mark as accomplished, “I might want to have another baby, although everyone isn’t encouraging me on this (laughs) but I might think that through. I also want to move to a bigger house as this apartment is getting to be a bit too small for us now. I also want to look back at my roles and see that I’ve done things that respect the intellect of the audience”.
The top of mind answer on our eternal question whether she knows what women want was a straight up “Of course! Girls just wanna have fun!! I adore this song and when I hear it, no matter how tired I am, I feel so powerful and joyful, it’s not true that women are ‘nekadeyat’, girls want to enjoy life, they’re the source of every beautiful thing, the source of kids who bring all the joy”.
A new series is in the pipeline for Dalia in which she plays a girl who comes from the lower middle class and struggles and when her father dies, She moves to the States and meets a guy from a very rich family that looks normal at first but then the surprises begin.
Shot at the Presidential Suite, JW Marriott
Photography by Ahmed Mubarez
Styled and directed by What Women Want…Team
Hair by Rafi, Al Sagheer Salons
Make up by Zeinab
Gowns by Dina Ayesh Night available at Posh Boutique
Earrings by Chopard available at Felopateer Palace