On a breezy summer afternoon, our studio was jammed with forces of fun, energy and excitement. Suddenly it was people dancing in the hallway, eating mouthfuls of shawerma and singing Ed Sheeran at the tops of their voices. And of course, it couldn’t have been anyone else other than the daring darlings May Elghety, Mariam Elkhosht and hilarious Mahmoud Elissy. This new wave of fresh talent that has stolen the hearts of Ramadan viewers had indeed taken our own office by storm.
These up and rising stars who were trending all throughout Ramadan on social media have been either blessed or cursed with their newfound celebrity. With memes and comments flooding the internet, people can be harsh, “sometimes it is actually quite funny! This one guy said my name reminds him of the sound of eating cabbage. ‘Khosht Khosht’ which I found hilarious”, Mariam Elkhosht tells.
“I used to hear lots of negative things about the industry but people are extremely supportive. I remember once Ahmed Malek brainstormed my character with me for one of the scenes that he wasn’t even part of.” – Mariam
Whilst we mostly know her as the sweet Shahira, she is certainly so much more. This former makeup artist, current radio presenter and devoted animal lover has recently joined the entertainment industry only to be surprised. “I used to hear lots of negative things about the industry but people are extremely supportive. I remember once Ahmed Malek brainstormed my character with me for one of the scenes that he wasn’t even part of. After a while, you really do feel like these people are your family”, Mariam tells us.
Being stellar-actor Mohamed Mamdouh’s lover on screen has marked her first on-camera experience as something special, “He was extremely helpful, he never quite told me directly that he noticed I was panicking or stressing out but he tried to help me through it. He’d joke all the time because he was very aware that I needed to relax”, she tells.
“They’d text me saying ‘Mariam, stay away from this family, you are so much better than them’. I’d feel like I need to tell them it is a show and that I am okay,”- Mariam
The love that people barred for this unconventional couple didn’t stop at turning off the television. “Lots of people would send me messages saying, ‘don’t break Ahmed’s heart please, he shouldn’t be friend zoned every Ramadan!’ and when problems arose, they’d text me saying ‘Mariam, stay away from this family, you are so much better than them’. I’d feel like I need to tell them it is a show and that I am okay”, she laughs.
“With work pressure I would never give up on my core beliefs.”- Mariam
This animal rights supporter who has wowed everyone with her on screen glam has been known for doing her own cruelty-free makeup looks. “It wasn’t a burden at all even with work pressure. If we have lots of scenes I’d make minor changes to the same look. And I know that later on with work pressure I would never give up on my core beliefs. It is like someone who doesn’t eat children, if he or she is pressured or starved, would they eat children? Absolutely not!” she argues.
Because acting is one of the most demanding jobs, with someone who has a family and another job on the line, people always assume that this person will fall short. “Women are extremely talented at multitasking. The idea isn’t new to them. A woman who can raise triplets and manage their responsibility can surely do just about anything! My family is very supportive of me because they are all artists so they understand. My husband is a director, my mother is a writer and my father has a show on TV”, Mariam says.
For this astonishing piece of TV history to be created, the La Totfea el Shams crew had to spend longs days on set with some sleepless nights, turning them from work mates to close friends. “May is extremely easy to be around. She is spontaneous, all over the place”, Mariam tells and Leithy interrupts, “Before I met her I seriously assumed she is this local “Bent Balad” girl, just like she appears on screen but when I first saw her I was shocked to see a constant English-speaking crazy passionate person who is obsessed with psychology and overly ambitious! And the way she shifts from her true self to the exact antonym, is art itself!”
“I’d finish shooting at 8 AM go to college to attend a 9 AM lecture then leave at 12 to go back to the shooting.”- May
This head-turner of an actress first paved her acting path at age 14 and ever since she has been leaving permanent marks with her diversified roles! “Because my family work in the industry people sometimes use this as a justification for my success. I love my family of course but that is not how it all happened for me. I went to castings just like everybody else and no one even knew who I was. My family wanted me to do it on my own and they let me find my way”, May explains.
18-year-old hard-working May would go back and forth from campus to set and from set to campus, “I’d finish shooting at 8 AM go to college to attend a 9 AM lecture then leave at 12 to go back to the shooting. My doctors were very understanding and they were such a great support. It is very important to have supportive professors in the educational system especially for actors who are also students”, May tells.
“I don’t want to be type-casted and I want to try things I haven’t done before.”- May
The girl who has had Ahmed Malek’s character wrapped around her finger did it before back in Al-Gezira Movie! “I don’t know why people see us together, but I think it is because we are actually good friends in real life that we have this chemistry on screen. I hope that any hard roles that come my way would be with Malek because he gives me so much and he always makes it easier”, May reveals. And while she has mastered the Abdeen girl role she thinks it is time to break free. “The simple low social class girl isn’t what I am planning to do for the rest of my life. I don’t want to be type-casted and I want to try things I haven’t done before.”
Being an exception to every rule, May represents a new generation that is able to defeat cultural boundaries. “I am an Ahwa person. When I am not working I usually hang out with my friends at my favorite Ahwa, since I learned to surround myself with people that are not sexist. The first time I went there it was basically all men from different social classes staring at me even though I was dressed in very normal clothes. People were curious and astonished, and of course there were some silly comments that I had to ignore. But I kept going back every single day until people got used to me and it is my comfort zone now”, May tells.
“I try to be the cultural shock for people by being the girl who is willing to break all social norms and make people share whatever they please.” – May
“Some people think I do abnormal acts because I don’t have any social boundaries. They wonder how a girl can be bold and straightforward. How can she not be shy? Well, I go hug random people in the street because I think we shouldn’t be distant from each other”, she says. “My major is in psychology, I know that the more we build walls between us, the more we feel like we can’t talk about what is wrong with us. So, I try to be the cultural shock for people by being the girl who is willing to break all social norms and make people share whatever they please”, she adds.
“I was able to make people believe this character isn’t just some well-written lines in a script but rather actual flesh and blood”- Leithy
And with Leithy in the house it was always hard to keep up a serious conversation. “He is hilarious”, Mariam tells us, “He can come up with something funny out of nowhere”.
This engineer’s graduation certificate was hung up where all Egyptians keep it, on the walls of society’s prestigious useless requirements, as he went on to follow his true passion for acting. And although he has been quite the comedian joker on SNL Arabia, this gifted actor was absolutely loved for his drama role on La Totfea el Shams. “I’d get messages from women saying things like, ‘You are so kind, I hope there are more of you.’ Only yesterday an old woman stopped me on the street to ask me ‘Are you Dr. Saad?’ and when I said yes, she kept telling me how kind and sensitive I am. I perceive this as a sign of success, that I was able to make people believe this character isn’t just some well-written lines in a script but rather actual flesh and blood”, Mahmoud tells.
“Nowadays we see lots of strong, independent and responsible women that do things that even men don’t do.”- Leithy
While we chapeau the man who survived Fefe, the stubborn and strong character, we wonder if the woman can be the stronger partner in the relationship. “Nowadays we see lots of strong, independent and responsible women that do things that even men don’t do, but that shouldn’t cancel their emotional, delicate side, we all have a little bit of everything. For me, Dr. Saad wasn’t weak at all. He is actually very patient that he tolerated Fefe because he saw in her what others didn’t see”, Mahmoud argues.
“Sometimes I’d catch myself talking to my fiancée in Dr. Saad language, and she’d be laughing and asking me what is wrong.”- Leithy
“Sometimes I’d catch myself talking to my fiancée in Dr. Saad language, and she’d be laughing and asking me what is wrong”, Leithy laughs.
These three enchanting performers have broken our hearts over the very twisted love stories each was involved in. But what would they do if it was really their own story? May tells us, “Habiba and I are very different. I am more practical than romantic, whenever someone approaches me I always do the math first. Do we share the same vision? Do we come from similar background? If I were in her shoes I would never allow a relationship with such social gap to even begin. But generally, I feel like any girl who would find a guy that loves her like Adam loved Habiba would most probably fall for him”.
Sitting on the other end of the coach was Mariam Elkhosht, whose character got engaged to Ahmed whilst he was imprisoned. “I would still get engaged to Ahmed whilst he is in prison but that is because Ahmed is originally a very pure-hearted and good person. He just went through a phase in his life where he had a fallout that helped him find his true self”, she justifies.
Swinging back and forth was Leithy who claims he might be less patient than his character “Dr. Saad” ever was with stubborn Fefe.
Up-close and Personal
1) Who is the last celebrity you stalked on social media?
Mariam Elkhosht excitingly yells, “Ahmed Magdy of course!!”
2) What is a line you use to startup a conversation with a crush?
May initiates, “Whenever I like someone, I go ahead and ask them out”.
3) What is a turnoff for you?
Mahmoud Eleithy, protests “Bad breath!”.
4) What is one useless talent that you have?
May bends her arms and argues, “I am flexible!” while Mariam says, “I am very good with cymbals”.
5) What is the funniest rumor that spread about you?
Mahmoud reveals, “People thought I was the kid from Al-Nazer movie because he is dark skinned and wears eyeglasses”.