Ola Roushdy: And who Said Women aren’t Funny?

Ola Roushdy has changed the setup of female comediennes by dishing out her sense of humor in sitcoms, candid cameras and films. She acts, performs, stands-up, writes, and waits to see the wide smiles of the audience. We met with Ola in her office in ‘Talkies Productions’, where she works as a producer, and although it was her day off, she showed up cracking jokes swiftly melting the ice.

How did it all begin?

Acting in general has always been my passion. My father was a diplomat and I used to travel around the world with him. I’ve lived in Italy, Belgium, Switzerland and the U.S. when I first came to Egypt; I had no contacts and no clue on how to enter the field, but I had a friend who told me that it would be great to work for Tarek Nour as an Account Executive and I thought that it was a different thing to do but it could get me mingle with a lot of people in the field and I did it anyways. There, I met with Tarek El Erian and we were working on ‘El Selem Wel Tebaan’ movie and I asked him if I could play the role of Noha and he asked me if I was really sure that I could act, so I told him definitely and that was my first appearance on the silver screen. When I was in Italy, I watched a hefty piece of Italian cinema and learned Italian and took some acting courses. When I came back, I joined the cast of Shabab Online sitcom and made a short movie with director Asmaa El Bakry that was called ‘Onf W So7’reya’ and it went to festivals. I also acted in AUC theatre and got minor roles in movies like ‘Halim’, ‘Damm El Ghazal’. According to my TV appearances, I acted in the 4 seasons of ‘Tamer W Shawkeyya’, ‘Magnoon Leila’ and last year’s ‘Helhom Benhom’.

Tell us about your hilarious TV show ‘Eshtaghalat’.

The program that took huge effort in which I used to work under the hottest weather conditions ever as we filmed in the streets. The program wasn’t supposed to be a candid camera type and should have been just characters that I play in the street but it turned to develop to candid camera. I used to write the script with the help of another person at OTV, but unfortunately the viewership wasn’t that great. Have you seen the other show which was called ‘3aelet Piso’? That was hilarious. The show was about a family living in a villa and some people come to their house to fix them anything, like a carpenter for example. We asked a butcher once to come for slaughter and when they come, they’re surprised that we ask them to slaughter a dog because we come from Korean origins. Of course some of them ran away but I remember one guy agreed and not only that, he also agreed to taste the dog’s meat we keep in the fridge! I really had fun making that project.

Is being a comedienne a thing that you’ve always wanted to be associated with?

You can’t treat acting as just a job you do, it’s not a job its art. For me, it’s not a job as my job is a producer and I can’t just do whatever roles I get, just for marking myself in the field. I’m an actress and I always wanted to be, but comedy roles were given to me as people think that I fit perfectly in them, which I do, but I also want to act several characters and prove that I could do different roles. I like comedy and my sense of humor in real life was my entry route, but one can’t just stick to the same roles through out their acting career. I think that people who stick to the same roles may have their own reasons and some of those are that they want people to be familiar with them, but this year I’m giving you a surprise, I wont appear on TV as I wasn’t offered different roles and the roles that I’ve got were similar to the ones that I’ve done in the past years, so I’ll wait for something different, I wont repeat myself.

Why do you think there aren’t enough roles for comediennes?

Well there aren’t enough roles for females in general, mostly repeated characters. Sadly, comedy in Egypt is cheesy in most times. I think that if I really want to do something creative, I should start with my own ideas, meaning that I should pave the way for myself to do something like a show for example, of course that would happen when I reach a certain level.

In your opinion, how do you evaluate Egyptian sitcoms?

It’s a wave, because Tamer W Shawkeyya was a huge success, everyone came producing their sitcom. Ragel W Sett Settat came along and many other sitcoms of that sort. Seriously what’s with the sitcoms that have inserts like ‘Mama’ and ‘Baba’? This Ramadan there is one called ‘Mama Fel Esm’ and last Ramadan there was one called ‘Harramt Ya Baba’, what’s the point? (Laughs). I won’t join a sitcom unless it’s a real challenge for me.

You have a standup comedy background, tell us about that.

I used to Standup with George Azmy, who was from the first Arab Americans to enter the world of Standup comedy. It would have been easier for me to do it in English but I did it in Arabic for the audience. It was very difficult as I used to write my own script, the thing that takes a lot of effort. I used to Standup in Sakyya and had a show in Moga Comedy TV. For me a show is better than live performance as you keep on standing for nearly 15 minutes and you don’t know when people will laugh, but on TV, there is a program and other types of scripts.

With acting, production and a new hubby on your shoulders how will you achieve balance?

I will keep doing what I do even if I had kids, but I’ll try to mange my life. You never know when your big break is, and I used to worry about age but a lot of people became very successful at middle age, so its not about the age as long as you’re working hard for achieving your best. Maybe I’ll take a long break if I had kids, but I’ll proceed.



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