The Stage

People tell me: “Writing is enough, You don’t need to act too. Acting doesn’t suit you. What role could a fat, dark-skinned hijabi play? You’d be lucky to find a secondary role.  You’ll never be the leading actress. “

My parents were strict. They wanted me to wear baggy clothes, but I didn’t like to. I wore the hijab at a whim and later realized that I’ll never be able to take it off.  “You can’t wear short blouses on pants.” I hated everything about my body.  I never dressed up. I was never complimented on looking good.

I’ve always been an introvert. But I love theatre and acting. I joined the school theatre at university. But I was never given a role in a play because of the way I looked. My friends didn’t believe me when I told them it was because of my appearance. They’d tell me to keep working on my acting skills. I worked really hard. A director chose me for a play last year. But after the first rehearsal, he told me: “You can’t play the role because you don’t fit in with the rest of the cast.”

They were are all light-skinned, whereas I was dark-skinned.

“You’re too fat for the role.”

They chose another girl who was lighter-skinned than me. It upset me that the actors they chose weren’t very good.

I worked really hard to get another role that I wanted to play. Everyone in the cast thought I should play that role. But the director gave it to another actress. “Why?” I asked. “I want a thin girl to play the role,” he said. Even though it wouldn’t make a difference what size the actress was.

Everyone always tells me: “You’re a good actress with a strong presence and solid experience, But I want another actress for the role.” My appearance is what’s stopping me from getting on stage. I’ve even considered cosmetic surgery. I’m learning script writing so I could play my own self on stage. I’ll write a play that talks about people like me. I’ll find someone like me to play the leading role.

What role could a fat, dark-skinned hijabi play?

BuSSy is a performing arts project that documents and gives voice to censored untold stories about gender in different communities in Egypt. The project organizes storytelling workshops and performances where women and men step on stage to share stories about harassment, rape, gender discrimination, honor killing, forced marriage, Female genital mutilation, motherhood, domestic violence, child abuse, mass sexual assaults and many others, from different communities and cities in Egypt.

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