Samia Assaad – A Rare Gem

Samia Assad shot to fame this season with her role in Rasayel El Bahr in which she joined forces with Dawood Abdel Sayed, one of the most respected directors in Egyptian cinema. Abdel Sayed is known for his interesting plot choices and quirky cinematic blends. Her fierce passions towards acting turned the heads of filmmakers, audience and critics and that’s why we caught up with her at the AUC campus, where she works as Admin assistant for BP student affair and doing her second BA in theatre. We had a little chat about her role and her cinematic outlook.

1)      When did acting emerge?

My first BA was from the Faculty of Al Alsun in translation and English literature. I always knew since school that I wanted to act but I wasn’t encouraged. I lived in Denmark in my first 9 years, as my mother is Danish and my father is Egyptian, but when we came here, I discovered I enjoined acting a lot and four years ago I decided to pick up that hobby. So, I came to AUC and took a number of classes. The professors encouraged me to continue then I decided to take full BA, not just attending a couple of classes. Bit after bit, I got some plays and I got castings in a number of English plays at AUC and there was one directed by Mahmoud El Lozy called, The List by Tawfik El Hakim and I enjoyed it very much.

2)      How did you meet with Dawood Abdel Sayed?

I was in acting in an independent play written by Robert Bishara and that’s when Dawood Abdel Sayed saw me and the next day I found his assistant calling me .He had different people lined up for the part but I was very lucky he picked me.

3)      Tell us how did you prepare for your first character, Carla?

The minute I read her, I loved her. Some characters you love them easily and other characters you don’t relate to them, but surely Dawood Abdel Sayed wrote it well. There was quite some time between casting and then filming and there was time to train and work on the character. I sometimes used to sit by myself and read the lines in different tones and move to practice the character well.

4)      Carla was a very controversial character, was that a challenge as a first cinematic experience?

When I read Carla, I said ok at once for two reasons. First, it’s an honor to work with Dawood Abdel Sayed, second, I don’t want to be a movie star who’s looking just for fame; I know a lot of people say this but seriously I want to use my art in a way that somehow forwards a message. I’m lucky enough I do have my job at AUC and if acting turns into a profession, I’ll love that but I will do it without sacrificing what I believe in. Carla had this controversial side to her I don’t say I’m for or against as that is something that is flashed up to each and every person. I just more or less agree with what Dawood wants to say in the movie about each character. As for Carla, he wanted to say that she is a human being after all regardless her controversial side.

5)      Some of the audience started questioning what exactly Carla wanted, what do you think of their feedback?

It’s a very good question, which means that me and Dawood succeeded in Carla as Carla did’t really know what she wanted and therefore the audience also won’t know. She tries to rekindle love with Yehia, but it’s dead and she could do nothing about it. She doesn’t necessarily turn into a lesbian but she realizes that it’s not a one way street life but there are various paths out there and  I think what she will do after the movie is to try different paths to choose from.

6)      How would you select your roles after Carla?

I don’t want to choose a regular character and I don’t think that there are regular characters as every character has something in it. I want to use what God gave me in a useful way; even if I’ll do comedy, I would do sophisticated comedy.

7)      Are there any special directors you’d like to work with?

Definitely Yousry Nassrallah, but I think all of them would add something new to my skills as everyone has a different taste. But I would prefer Nassrallah, Khairy Bishara and Ali Idrees among many others.

8)      What’s your opinion about Egyptian cinema today?

I’m happy it’s diverse. You definitely need diversity as there are no ‘Aflam habtta’ there are different levels of tastes and sometimes you just need a light movie to watch.

9)      Are there any actors you would like to work with?

I can’t say this I have to meet them first how do I know? Actually I never thought about that I would know whoever casts in front of me will be the perfect one for this role and chemistry would take place. But at the end, I’d like to say Omar el Sherif, (laughs).

10)  Who are your favorite International directors?

It’s a very hard question but maybe Woody Allen.  Also Elya Soliman, he’s Palestinian and director of ‘Alyad El Alaheya’ a great movie, you should watch it.

11)  Are you familiar with Clean Cinema term? Do you have any taboo roles?

I heard about it but look I haven’t made up my mind yet about that, but I’m putting in my mind that I have two daughters and I’ll make something that will make them proud of me and I will always be asking ask myself if the girls grew older and watched this movie would they be proud of me? I threw myself in the ocean and I’m learning to swim now. I won’t sit with you now and tell you I’m with Clean Cinema but I should let my girls be proud of me as that’s my bench mark. I want to do some roles like Carla, a message and I moved something in the audience anything to make his life better.

12)  Do you have any favorite women directors?

I’d say Inas El Degheidy. What I like about her is that she is very true to herself and I respect that. I saw her in an interview saying I don’t pray regularly and she was very honest so I was like ‘so, I’m not the only one!’  I like her movie “Al Bahatheat Aan El Horreya” it was very good. She doesn’t mind what society sees or believes she does what she wants regardless.

13)  A lot of bilingual and cosmopolitan Egyptian celebrities rise up to the international level, how would you welcome that?

I will choose my kids first as they are my priority. I’ll take them with me or whatever, in Rasayel El Bahr I made my schedule to suit my family. I had all my shootings at night when my kids were asleep and El sherka El Arabeya was very understanding.

14)  Will we see you in home screens?

I don’t mind as long as the role is good. Acting is a passion it’s not a matter of my ‘stardom won’t allow me to do that’ and stuff, no.

15)  What is your dream role?

A very disturbed character called Blanche (laughs), in the English play called A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams. Blanche is very weak from the inside and she has a very fragile crust from the outside. People don’t see Blanche as very weak, but the truth is that she is in deep depression and bit by bit you see her downfall through the play.

16)  What types of movies do you prefer?

I like subtle movies I don’t like direct forwarded messages. The director should rely on the audience brains, even if I didn’t understand I would search for what the director wants

17)  What are the best movies of all time?

Sure Eshaet Hob! I could watch it 100 times. Yousef Chahine’s Bab El Hadid is also a masterpiece.

18)  Do you have anything you’d like to share with us?

I’m grateful to people who gave me strength to start out. I loved working with the cast and crew of Rasayel El Bahr very much. Asser and Basma used to sit with me and give me tips in between the shootings; also Dawood Abdel Sayed is such a gentleman.

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