Jamila Awad, also known as Hania from this season’s hit series Taht Al Saytara has been the talk of the town lately, with many people including us, wondering what she might be like in real life. A brief chat with the actress showed she was nothing like the character she plays; she’s a sweet but determined young Actress who had a lot to say about her beliefs, being criticized and drug use in Egypt.
1. Have you acted in anything prior to Taht Al Saytara?
No this is my first acting experience.
2. What’s your real age?
I don’t think I should say it. Knowing an Actor’s real age, the audience automatically categorizes an actor under specific roles and will never be able to see them in anything else. I think knowing an actor’s real age ruins the creativity behind the role played by the actor.
3. Seeing as your role in Taht Al Saytara is a challenging one that you seem to very comfortably perform, were you always this passionate about acting?
It was in the back of my head but I barely did anything about it and barely spoke of it. I studied Political Science and Mass Communication because, at the time, it was the closest alternative to acting and directing.
4. Are you fond of directing as well?
Yes actually I would like to be a director as well. I directed a video for the 8th season Star Academy winner Nesma Mahgoub.
5. Things don’t always work out the way you plan, you’re a Mass Communication graduate and you didn’t have acting as a plan but now you do. Did your acting cause a change in plans?
I guess acting is not a profession where you take a decision of staying or leaving; it always depends on the audience. You can be a great actress but won’t fit people’s taste, you always hear people saying someone is a good actor but there’s just something about them they don’t like. If it was solely up to me, I will act as long as there is something new and challenging. It also depends on what my priorities will be. I could find something new that better serves my community other than acting. Nothing is set in stone.
6. Taht Al Saytara discusses taboo subjects that people are somewhat in denial about; were you worried about the audience’s reaction when you accepted the role of Hania?
Honestly I was a little worried, but not to an alarming extent. I was worried about portraying the character itself ,and how I want to project Hania’s character to the audiences. Do people love her? Hate her? Hate her actions but love her? Think she’s an irresponsible child? There were so many options to go with for Hania and that’s what worried me most.
You see people like Hania everywhere. They don’t have to be in your circle of friends.
7. Hania is an extremely rebellious character. Does your 16 year-old-self relate to her? How were you as a teenager?
Not at all. I was nothing like her when I was 16. I was your average teenager; hard-worker, passionate about a few subjects at school, and enjoyed going out with friends. Hania is a strong character and she has a different way of thinking, we have that in common, but our principles are completely different. She’s lonely and doesn’t know where to channel her energy.
8. Do you have friends in your close circle who have more in common with Hania?
You see people like Hania everywhere. They don’t have to be in your circle of friends. In Maadi for example; it’s a somewhat closed community where everyone knows in details what other Maadi residents’ life is like. In short, I’ve encountered far worse than Hania.
9. People are harsh critics online, how do you feel about the negative comments people leave on actors’ social media pages?
I’ve seen some of the comments about me but thankfully the majority were positive. A few were negative, but I don’t get affected by them. There was one time when someone spoke badly about my mother. I answered the person to say that that is not criticism but rather an unnecessary hurtful comment. I feel like I’m using where god has put to me for a higher good, if you have the chance to change how people think then why not? The person apologized about the comment later.
10. There’s instant criticism with social media now, how does that affect your career? Do you find it to be helpful or distracting?
It will only be distracting if you can’t overcome it. I wasn’t faced with this situation, but if there were a bulk of criticizing comments then I think it might be a bit distracting. Thankfully all I have seen now were supportive.
11. Are you worried that starting out with such a controversial role will make it harder for you to choose scripts later?
It will definitely make it harder because I need to find something new to me and to the audience but with the same caliber of challenge and controversy yet fits my taste.
12. Some people claim that using drugs and narcotics is okay or popular in the entertainment business. What’s your take on that?
No, not at all. This is available in all fields but when you’re out say at a nightclub the only person you’ll recognize is the Actor. A Doctor isn’t going to walk in with a white lab coat, or an Engineer with a safety helmet.
13. The scene where you talk about acing grades, hash and sex has caused some controversy. A Facebook page that has set out to show that this kind of work is harmful to Egyptian national security has this scene as their profile picture. What’s your take?
I think that there always have been and always will be different schools of thought. Just like how some people use antibiotics and some use homeopathy. None are wrong, but if you’re convinced about one thing you’ll think the other option is entirely false. I believe that each person trying to help the world should help in whatever way they deem fit and not blindly criticize other peoples’ means of helping.
I feel like I’m using where god has put to me for a higher good, if you have the chance to change how people think then why not?
14. To older generations, drug addicts were dressed in rags, freakishly thin and easily noticed. Now, like Hania’s character, they can completely fit in and no one would know because families are detached and friends will only care to a certain extent. Do you think the younger generations suffer from dangerous curiosity without someone to guide them?
Yes, according to Human Psychology people like to belong; it’s a basic need. They have a need to belong to a community or to a group where they feel their interests are being addressed and their presence noted. When teenagers, or people at any age, don’t belong to the family they’ll belong somewhere else by doing a common activity; sometimes smoking, sometimes sports, sometimes cussing too much and sometimes narcotics. I think there should be more awareness about the way parents should deal with their children and the way innocent curiosity should be dealt with.