She is bold and she is beautiful. Since her award-winning role in Dawoud Abdel Sayed’s ‘Messages from the Sea’, she revealed a new side, one that is celebrating womanhood in all its facets. A side that is very strong, yet fashionably vulnerable, underlining her femininity with a matured outlook on life, cinema and the future. Being one of the most sought after actresses of her generation didn’t come overnight or on a silver plate. Years of hard work, patience combined with perseverance drove Basma to where she is now; a high vantage point with a whole new horizon ahead.
A strong presence, a good sense of humor paired with great wit is what best describes Basma. The newly wed actress managed to free us time among her hectic schedule filled with public appearances and moving cartons. Starting a new life and building a family is a big step and surely not a piece of cake in the given circumstances. “I hope what happened a year and a half ago would make a change. Let’s agree that our life after the revolution will be different than our life before. Of course there will be negative aspects of it but of course there are positive ones as well”, she says, “we now have the opportunity of being able to express our various opinions and I would love to start a family that grows in an environment with freedom of expression. Of course we aren’t living in ‘La Vie en Rose’ times at the moment but seeing actual ‘change’ takes time and effort and tremendous work. I think we all need to work on ourselves, on our ways of thinking, our culture, but I’m optimistic, because at least we have something to work for”, she adds.
There are always doubts and fears that are a common ingredient in every woman’s life. In the movie ‘Zay El Naharda’, Basma played a character that spent most of her life obsessing about time and worrying about her future, but the real Basma has nothing in common with Mai, one of the dearest roles to her heart. “I try to live the phase I am in. I believe that no matter how many plans I make things will take their destined route eventually because there are things that happen to you according to the circumstances that surround you at a certain point in your life. I don’t invest too much effort and time for the far future, I plan for short terms”, Basma points out.
We are surely living interesting times, where previously familiar faces vanished only to be replaced with new faces and opinion leaders to nourish a society hungry for this new kind of celebrities. “Political celebrities have a big impact now on society, some of them are more educated, aware and informed than others. You are free to select the opinion that convinces you more. Egyptians started to have different interests than before and they all want to be more updated and are concerned with the development of the political scene in contrast to before. When you listen to many different opinions, you have the opportunity to build up your own. It’s not about blindly following these celebrities, but people should listen and select the opinions they relate to or believe in. Before, we used to listen and think ‘that talk won’t change anything’ but today it’s more about ‘yes, I agree with that guy’”, she explains.
In the early days of the revolution, many artists were spotted in Tahrir, marching along with their fellow countrymen demanding a better Egypt. Some people commented that artists should not engage in politics while others found it the right thing to do. “Well, it’s not necessary, but let’s talk about my personal experience in the 18 days in Tahrir. I used to go to Tahrir because of my citizenship not my profession. The appreciation of people when they saw support from familiar faces was outstanding. The amazing boost and positive energy that people get when they see artists joining is beyond description. I’m not asking all artists to have a political point of view, at the end artists are human beings and some just aren’t interested in politics. Artists work for people and people have the hand in making you succeed or not, and that doesn’t mean that the criteria of an artist’s success is standing with his/her people in crises. An artist won’t succeed if not talented, no matter how hard they try. Standing side by side with fellow countrymen creates a bond with people who never saw you except on a screen”, she explains.
Her role as Nora in ‘Messages from the Sea’ is a milestone in Basma’s filmography that surfaced a whole new dimension in Basma’s repertoire. “Nora had reached a severe stage of self-punishing for she treated herself as a product that anyone can buy. When she was mistaken for a prostitute, she discovered that she had indeed sold and tortured herself, so she went through a stage of purification and catharsis. Sometimes a person must go through a purification phase to change from bad to good. You criticize yourself harsher than how people criticize you. When you allocate your flaws in the right way, you know how to get rid of them more than when you aren’t able to pinpoint where these flaws are. If a very obese woman doesn’t think she is, yet everyone tells her that she must lose weight, she’ll never lose weight until she realizes how big she is. Being judgmental is a terrible characteristic in any person. You have to deal with people as they are because everyone has their own way of thinking, background, conditions, and circumstances in their lives that have a certain effect on them. When you judge people by the way the look or appear, you will find that everyone is bad if they aren’t similar to you in a way or another while everyone is good if they are similar to you”, she states.
Despite the fact that Egypt is changing by the minute, there are many challenges Egyptian women face nowadays, “some people look at women as if they are mere objects; others think women are less smart than men or less efficient. There are lots of Egyptian women who are capable of running major enterprises today and they’re doing very well. Half of Egypt’s women of all social classes are breadwinners in the family. Other women had to travel abroad to be able to show their talents and skill. I think that some people don’t believe in women’s capabilities, and for that to change, women must start with themselves by appreciating herself first, in order to force society to respect her brains and rights. A woman, who doesn’t fight for her rights won’t find somebody emerging out of nowhere and providing her with these rights”, Basma elaborates.
The strong need of people to be served the real deal instead of farce like scripts using words or phrases that no one can relate to in the audience is evident in many new film projects. In Basma’s latest movie ‘Wahid Sahih’ directed by Hady Bagoury and written by Tamer Habib, her character had to say some ‘inappropriate’ words that were received differently by the different age groups, resembling the generation gap and grey zone of what is appropriate and what not, like so many polarizing issues our society is keeping itself busy with.
“I won’t disagree with people who were against it. It’s shocking because we never heard these kinds of words in films before, but let us think of it this way, a person who is shocked by these inappropriate words could stop saying them in his daily life after he realizes how shocking they are. It doesn’t mean that in real life I encourage people to use such language, but in our society, there is a huge number of people who use such words. Let’s not judge on an ethical scale because everyone knows that these words are of course inappropriate it’s no news. When we were shooting this scene, there were lots of debates about the scenario. I had a few worries of course and I wasn’t sure whether to abide by the script or not, but Hady El Bagoury and Tamer Habib, found that it is sometimes necessary to shock people to open their eyes to something”, she comments.
With women taking the lead in many fields in society, powerful women may find obstacles finding the right man, but Basma had a different view about that, “It’s a human thing not a women thing. It’s never easy for everybody to find the right one for them. The more people grow old and change the more the criteria of choosing the right person becomes difficult but it’s never impossible”, she smiles.
We always ask celebrities if they know what women want, but this time, we decided to ask Basma if she knows what men want “Ehhh, ehh…”, she laughs. “They want what they want in their own special way. Sometimes they get it sometimes they don’t, but all men differ from one another”, she adds. Mutual support is beneficial in a relationship which Basma advocates, “support is a huge part of a relationship. There must be mutual conversations, mutual respect, and partnership on all levels. I’ve tried reading ‘Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus’, some things are interesting, but when you come to relationships seriously there is no manual and there are no rules”, she laughs.
With all these changes and new beginnings, Basma is confidently planning her future along with her husband, “I’m adapting to my new life so I missed this season. I’m not living my life alone now, I have a partner, who I must consider and that’s a situation that I’m very happy with”, she concludes.
Photographer: Ahmed Mobarez
Stylist: Kegham Djeghalian
Art Direction by WWW Team
Special thanks to Al Sagheer Salons
Special thanks to Malak El Ezzawy for designing these beautiful gowns specially for this shoot