Featured Image Photography by Amall Ishak. Costume Advisor Nermine Said.
Beautiful, intelligent and extremely talented; those are things you may already know about Ingi Abou Zeid, but did you know she’s an inspiration when it comes to academia? Ingi’s acting career boomed quickly, but this wasn’t about luck, “people say ‘you’re so lucky with how successful you got’, but it isn’t about luck. I believe that hard work takes you places”, she tells. And hard work it was. Ingi lived in Alexandria before she moved to Canada 12 years ago. When she did, she had already gotten her Bachelor’s Degree in business management. In Canada, she started studying psychology, while simultaneously taking acting courses, “I used to love acting since I was a child. I was always on school plays, but my parents thought it would be more important that I’d finish college”, she explains, “so it’s like a dream that I’d set aside in a drawer”. Ingi eventually opened the drawer and embraced her dream, going to the New York Film Academy to study acting. During this time, she made plenty of independent films, one of which was an animation she made with Egyptian director Mohamed El Zayat. She then came back to Egypt in 2010. She finished filming a Ramadan series and went back to Canada to get her Master’s Degree in drama therapy. We sit down with Ingi to talk about art, TV and women!
“I don’t want to continue to be the ‘cute girl’. So I kept turning down roles until I thought I won’t be in anything this Ramadan”
She stars in the highly anticipated series, El Khoroug, by Mohamed El Adl, produced by Aroma. The series stars Dhafer L’Abidine, Sherif Salama, Dorra Zarrouk, Ahmed Rateb, Ahmed Kamal and many more. When it comes to choosing a role, Ingi wants to make sure she avoids being typecast, “I don’t want to continue to be the ‘cute girl’. So I kept turning down roles until I thought I won’t be in anything this Ramadan”, she says, “I’m always looking for a challenging role, something that would teach me something new or give me the opportunity to do something new”. She ended up choosing to be in El Khoroug and we can’t wait to see it.
It doesn’t surprise us that Ingi chooses her roles so meticulously. Just last year she played an extremely complex character, “in Taht El Saytara, people first hated my character. Then they started sympathizing with her, and then eventually started liking her”, she tells. The character did gain a lot of sympathy, especially that it took her a long time to get a divorce from the drug addicted husband who had ruined her life. Delaying divorce even when the relationship is toxic is something that could happen to many women in Egypt. Ingi believes this kind of thing varies depending on many things, “it depends on many factors; social class, financial level, and how independent she is and whether she has a job”, she explains, “each social class has its own customs. I’m against the idea that all Egyptians have the same customs; people in Maadi have different customs than people in Zamalek”, she laughs.
We can imagine how Ingi’s background in psychology and drama therapy has helped her. For her Master’s, she did 800 hours of clinical training, “I specialized in working with women. What moves me the most is violence against women whether it be verbal, physical, emotional or sexual”, she tells, “I applied drama therapy in shelter houses made for ladies who have survived domestic violence”. Even when it comes to performing on theatre in Egypt, Ingi still has her drama therapy in mind, “in drama therapy there’s something called therapeutic performance”, she explains, “I’d really love to do that. It would be something that has an impact on the audience and then we would hold a discussion after the show”.
Everyone has been increasingly noticing Ingi’s work, because each role was so impactful. This must have reflected on her Social Media channels, “I have a private account and I don’t have any fans on it. I also have a fan page, but I’m not very active on it, although I know I should be”, she explains, “I’m more active on Instagram”. The first time she experienced going viral was a shock to her, “in 2014 I woke up one day while El Sayyad was being aired, to find out that after the episode with the library scene was aired, 10 pages were made using my name on Facebook. I was in shock”, she recalls. This sudden reaction took Ingi by surprise, “all of a sudden my picture was all over Social Media. I admit I’m still learning to deal with all of this because I’m a very simple person”, she says.
“What moves me the most is violence against women whether it be verbal, physical, emotional or sexual”
Many actors care very much about being in many series and films at once, but to Ingi, she chooses quality over quantity, “I truly respect my career. So I put a lot of thought in who is the writers, actors and director and analyze all the factors when I’m choosing a role”, she elaborates. That being said, Ingi is impressed with the change we’ve witnessed in entertainment recently, “in the past five years we’ve seen a huge change in the industry, especially in television. The image has changed and many cinema directors are now directing series”, she tells, “same goes for writers and actors. Now the audience has more freedom of choice. Back in the day you had limited series options, now you have a lot to choose from”. This boom can also be seen in women’s influence on the entertainment business, “I’m really inspired and proud to witness this female movement, especially the works of Mariam Naoum, she writes real stories from the heart”, she says, “I really respect her and Nelly Karim so much on both artistic and social levels. I was lucky to work with them”. This new-found interest in art can be applied to all art forms, “back in the day it was rare when someone said they’ll take an art class, but now something has opened up inside people”, she tells, “the revolution was more of an intellectual and social revolution than it was a political one”.
Make sure to catch El Khoroug, where you can see Ingi in an all-new role!