The last time we saw Mona Zaki on the silver screen was as Shafika in the romantic comedy “Taymour & Shafika” alongside Ahmed El Sakka. Totally slimmed down and beautiful as ever she mesmerized the audience with her outstanding performance and once again proved that she has what it takes.
Being a superstar, wife to comedian Ahmed Helmy and mother to a daughter, Mona Zaki successfully juggles many balls in the air. Although, living a life in the limelight, Mona Zaki seems to be a very private person who tries as much to keep up a “normal” family life far from the flash lights. “I don’t like to talk much about my private life and especially not about my daughter as I want her to live a normal life like any child should. She knows that her parents are known and that we are actors but I don’t want her to be recognized on the streets, that’s why I keep her away from the media. It’s not very easy to appear with my daughter at places like the zoo or the club, and she understands that. My parents do these things with her, but we travel a lot and this is when we have lots of private times as a family”, she explains, “Lilly is a smart and sensitive little girl and she somewhat grasps our circumstances. I try very much to balance between my daughter’s rights and my work like any other working mother, I guess and yes it is doable with some support”.
I know you have been asked a million times but we still want to know how is it to be married to a comedian talent such as Ahmed Helmy? I mean can you guys be any serious?
“You know it is often a wrong conception that people have about comedians that they are funny all the time, but when you come to a closer look it is more of the “sad or quiet clown” concept. Most of them are very serious, reflective and deep when it comes to their own lives and channel their talent in their work and on stage, it is like recharging.”
Both of you are superstars of different film genres, do you still consult each other when it comes to your work?
“I ask Ahmed when I read a script and I am not sure and I guess it’s the same for him. we are both very honest and harsh critiques of each other’s work. It also happens that he tells me that he doesn’t really think highly of a script yet it turns out well for me.”
Does the word jealousy exist for you as a couple and as famous actors?
“No. We don’t have any jealous moments regarding our work. I mean I don’t feel that our generation of actors has these issues in the first place or at least I have never been in the position where I felt that a fellow actor is having jealousy issues with me. As for me and Ahmed we are a team and jealousy does not exist, I mean when we got married Ahmed had not yet fulfilled his capacities like he is today and I never felt that he was jealous of me in any way. When they say behind every great man is a great woman, it applies the other way around as well. Talking jealousy as a couple, as man and woman, surely there is a jealousy factor (smiles) but all within the normal range like any healthy couple.”
Is being married to a colleague easier in terms of acceptance of the job’s requirements?
“Far from what some might expect I hear a lot that co-actors would refuse to marry and actress, which I don’t understand at all how such a double standard is so widely spread in our industry. Yes, for me it is surely an advantage that I am married to a fellow actor, I mean he knows what comes with the territory such as late hours, travel and we encourage and respect each other a lot. I have been acting since I am 13 years old and Ahmed understands my relationship with me fellow actors a lot. We were all friends in the beginning which makes things a lot easier. I know Ahmed El Sakka and Karim Abdel Aziz since I am 15 and we all are friends to start with.”
How do you pick your roles? Or do they pick you?
“Well, a guess a little bit of both. Sometimes I get offered a role that I fall in love with and just touches something inside of me and I visualize it on the spot or other times I just wake up with a role in my mind that I would love to play so I just call a friend (script writer) and tell him about my idea and we start working on that.”
Is your dream role yet to come?
“When I get to play a new role I sometimes feel that this is the role of my life, but after I watch the finished project I find that I could have been better. I am quite harsh on myself as a critic and I believe that this is a good thing.”
What was your favorite role looking back on your filmography?
“My favorite roles were those that turned out to be a hit for me and somehow also a turning point in my career. “Edhak El Sura Tetlaa Helwaa”, “Sadat”, “Mafia” and “Dam El Ghazal” were turning points in my career. “Dam El Ghazal” was my first socio-political film and some critics found that I had matured after this role. I received an national award “Wessam El Gomhoreya” for my role in “Sadat” so defiantly this was a milestone in my career as well.”
How do you prepare for your roles?
“I get an acting coach and discuss all aspects of the character I am playing, how she dresses, walks, talks, feels and so on. I try very much to search for small details that shape a round character. I appreciate the variety of my roles as not to get stuck in a certain “nice girl” label.”
Do you think that in our film industry there are enough character roles for women?
“You can’t imagine how hard it is to get a character role. I often have to talk, convince and enter many discussions to voice my opinions. Like most industries the film business is very male dominated. In one of my early films I was acting along a new actor and just based on the fact that he is male they wanted to give him precedence on the titles. I can’t grasp something like that at all. You have to be strong to make yourself heard.”
Which director would you like to work with?
“I was very lucky to have had the chance to work with the biggest directors such as Sherif Arafa, Atef Salem to name a few. From the new generation of filmmakers I would love to work with Marwan Hamed for example, I believe he is very talented.”
Which actors you would like to share the screen with?
“Adel Imam, Youssra (I would love to work with her again) and Ahmed Helmy (laughs). I was lucky to have worked with the late Ahmed Zaki. I would like to work with Khaled El Sawy and Hend Sabry.”
What projects are you working on at the moment?
“A new movie by Tarek El Erian and co-starring Sherif Mounir, which is to be released in June. I like working with Sherif, he is very talented. Mohamed Hefzy and Tamer Habib wrote the script.
Name 3 men you can’t live without:
Ahmed Helmy, my dad and Tamer Habib (he is a dear friend and my intellectual source in many aspects).
Name 3 things you hate:
Betrayal, lack of devotion and stupidity.
Name 3 things you love:
My daughter, my family and my work.
Do you know what women want?
“Lots of things, a partner, career, self-actualization. Women need to be more empowered and given more chances to fulfill themselves.”