Bushra On Life, Cinema and the Future

When Bushra enters a room she instantly fills it. Her charms, paired with determination and character, are what make this Superwoman so sympathetic and very much likable. With an established music career, filmmaking and acting, Bushra gives the words Superwoman and artist a whole new meaning.

With her latest single on the market, receiving awards for 678 and touring festivals as an executive producer, life seems pretty much on the fast lane for this young woman. What many people might not know are the years of hard work, dedication, persistence and a clear focus on the future along with a spectacular dose of creative potential and energy.

We were always very familiar with this beautiful young woman who played different roles in different high profile productions, yet she seemed entrapped – like many of her females counterparts – in certain “nice” roles that somehow never really unfolded her true talent and caliber. The real turning point in Bushra’s career was Faiza, her award-winning role in Mohamed Diab’s debut 678. With an amazing authenticity and genuine empathy Bushra embodied every aspect of being Faiza, the average Egyptian woman, who is being haunted by the living conditions of the harsh Egyptian reality filled with poverty, sexual harassment and ignorance. She portrayed Faiza so well that one couldn’t help but feel awkwardly possessed by the urge to defend womankind from the humiliation of sexual harassment on Egyptian streets. “It’s a new phase in my life, after being in this industry for quite some time now, I needed to change, develop and mature. Faiza required a lot of preparation; it took many conversations and discussions with Mohamed Diab until I began working on her inner make up, her psyche and how she feels or would react to certain situations. Marwa Gabriel was my acting coach, it was team work that prepared for Faiza”, she explains.

678 hit a nerve like nothing before, for the first time an Egyptian picture, discussed a phenomenon as life altering as sexual harassment in all its facets, from different vantage points in our society. “For the first time in my life strangers started bombarding me with messages, asked questions on harassment or told me that they related to all aspects. For the first time I comprehended the meaning of real success, it was the third turning point in my life, after ‘Tabat wa Nabat’ and ‘El Amma Nour’”, Bushra points out.

Despite the overwhelming and hard earned success Bushra has both feet solidly on the ground and enjoys a realistic yet very artistic outlook on the future. “I’m kind of experienced now, it is not that I am terrified, worried or over-whelmed, I don’t like to be blinded by success or fame, I always think of the next step. I enjoy it but I don’t want it to get back at me, I want my feet on the ground”, Bushra explains.

What many people don’t know is that Bushra is not only a successful singer and actress, but a busy executive producer as well. Many would wonder where she would take the time and energy (touch wood) yet the answer shall remain in the secret powers of a typical Libra. “I am not a business woman, I am an artist, I use my passion to produce films at New Century, where I am the executive producer for films like ‘Mickey’s Family’, Amr Salama’s ‘Asmaa’ a cooperation with Film Clinic and the currently screening ‘Bibo wa Beshir’. I never had any ambitions towards producing until I was offered that job, then I realized that being an artist helped me as an executive producer for this métier needs not just business oriented people to work in but people who have passion towards art and real cinema”, she adds.

Shortly, before the Jan25 Revolution, young independent filmmakers had already begun their artistic revolt against oppression and sought after alternative ways to get their message across. “Egyptian cinema is developing through new filmmakers, indie films as well as fresh talents in terms of producers, actors and script writers. They are making a drastic change and the audiences are actually accepting and receptive. You can’t laugh at the same joke ten times, can you? It is important to mix fresh blood with new ideas and newcomers”, Bushra excitedly continues, “art and culture have started their own revolution before Jan25 by tackling important issues such as 678, ‘Heya Fawda’ (Le Chaos), ‘Hina Maysara’ and ‘Microphone’. Not only in cinema, singers shifted as well for Esseily’s song “El Aghzakhana” was recorded before the revolution. What we are living during the revolution has given us some kind of wisdom and strength, a true reality check which will reflect and add authenticity and diversity to art in Egypt. Hamza Namira, Ramy Essaam, Taxi and Cairokee are great examples for a renaissance of true post-revolution artists. The world of art is our oyster now!”.

The past two decades were a general downfall for arts, culture and cinema in Egypt. The heyday of leading women’s roles in big screen drama is long gone and has reduced good female character roles to a minimum, yet a slight revolt and revival of our vast cinematic heritage was evident in the past two to three years. “They want women to be followers, there are no good scripts for women, they want the female to decorate the male leading role. We have many subjects to talk about; we are not asking for something new or unheard of, we are demanding our heritage back. It bothers me a lot, I must say. If you have a good female role she always has to be a prostitute, that’s not right. We have role models, we have positive images for women that should be portrayed. I believe that this will change soon”.

Bushra has been raised between the UK and Egypt, exposed to the values and virtues of East and West, as the daughter of the late Ahmed Abdullah Rozza, one of the key figures in the students’ movement in 1972. “He was more of a role model than only a father, he always wanted to give a good image about Islam. I was raised with principles, manners and certain ideals. I try to be more realistic though; their generation was different from ours. We are moving very fast, while they try to preserve the core yet somewhat adapt it to be applicable nowadays. He has influenced me immensely, our many conversations and his way of seeing things and wanting to take Egypt to a better place. He was more of a friend than a father. My mother is specialized in gender and women’s rights so all of that is a big part of who I am, and the rest is hard work and my own experience. I was taught not to listen to surrounding voices, just keep working and learn from my mistakes. I just want the better for myself and for the people around me, it is very difficult. You should always start with yourself and keep working on it. The benchmark is never ending, I don’t really have one, maybe I set one today and regret it tomorrow. Yet I respect my weaknesses and I believe that they are my source of strength. It makes me feel good and accept any misfortune, I have something I call my psychological kitchen where I take negative energy and try to transform into positive energy”.

Given the current political circumstances that Egypt is facing emotions fluctuate constantly from optimism to frustration. “I am a bit of both depending on what is going on around us. My feelings keep changing along with the incidents that take place. But even though I am on this positive-negative rollercoaster I am confident that a country as versatile as Egypt, with such a grandiosely rich history will always find its way to the light at the end of the tunnel, even if you have to go through tough and unstable transitions”, she explains. On a personal level she has “fears as I am a human being, what if tomorrow will not be as shiny? What if my children one day ask me why there isn’t any justice in the world? We really need to search for the core, lack of justice, tolerance and self-satisfaction are a dangerous base. We need to have faith, only then we will have a conscience and a sense of belonging based on tolerance and contentment. I don’t want to appear philosophical but one should reconsider a lot of things. This might not change at all for us. Our real hope would be the new generations; hopefully our children and grandchildren will be able to get rid of the negative habits that we couldn’t get rid of ourselves. It doesn’t happen over night. If you think about it, we don’t need to change, we just need to go back to the roots and core of the Egyptian national character. The way we were decades ago, before misery bribed our ethics to sleep. We need education so we can build a new identity with solid ethics”, she concludes.

For what it’s worth Bushra has remained true to herself in all aspects of her work, opinions and views. Passion, love for detail and perseverance combined with the gift of constantly reinventing herself is only just the beginning of this magically unfolding phenomenon of a superwoman. 

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