In late December, the newest television sensation “El-Anesa Farah ” was on at every Egyptian and Arab household. “El-Anesa Farah ” is the Arabic version of Netflix’s very popular show “Jane the Virgin”.
And needless to say, viewers were hooked from the very first episode as they watched Farah – portrayed by Asmaa Abulyazeid, suffer accidental insemination, decide to keep the baby and get stuck in a love triangle with the father, Shady Wahdan – portrayed by Ahmed Magdy, and Tarek, her fiancé – portrayed by Mohamed Kelany.
We had the chance to sit down with the rising star and Egypt’s sweetheart, actress Asmaa Abulyazeid to know more about her portrayal of Farah, what goes on behind the scenes of the hit series, her future projects, what she thinks of social media and more!
1- Did you expect the big success of “El-Anesa Farah”? And what was your reaction when you first read the script?
I honestly never put high expectations for anything. I always do my best and leave the rest for God to take care of. I’ve actually never heard of “Jane the Virgin” until Sally Wally the producer told me about it.
When I first heard about the idea and read the script, I couldn’t imagine how it’ll be executed in Arabic and presented to the Egyptian and Middle Eastern societies. However, I think of it from the perspective of “What if?”; like what if this situation really happened?
We also shouldn’t disregard the fact that it’s not meant to be totally realistic. If this was the real world, the reactions to the accidental insemination itself in the series would’ve surely differed!
2- What has been your favorite thing, working on the series?
I’m extremely grateful for the people I work with. From day one, I was really nervous about how different and untypical the story is as well as the fact that I was offered a big principal role in it. It’s a huge responsibility.
That being said, the whole cast clicked from the very beginning, and thanks to the amazing chemistry between all of us, the atmosphere was definitely more fun and relaxed than stressful. After shooting for like three or four days, it already felt like we’ve been doing this for months. That’s how fast we clicked!
3- How many seasons should we tune in for?
As far as I know, the series is four seasons until now.
4- Are there any similarities in personality between Farah and yourself? And tell us one thing you love about Farah’s character!
Farah and Asmaa have a lot of similarities! I gave Farah so many parts of myself. For example, all of her reactions are exactly the same as mine. That’s how relaxed I am playing that role. On another note, there’s one thing that I both love and hate about Farah’s character and again, it’s part of me as well.
And it’s how emotional she gets over everything. Whether it’s happiness or sadness, she always goes to the extreme with her feelings. Her emotions are all over the place all the time.
5- Since “El-Anesa Farah” is all about a love triangle; from Farah’s perspective, what makes Shady better than Tarek and what makes Tarek better than Shady?
Shady is very kind to Farah, he makes her laugh and doesn’t like it when she’s upset. While Tarek is also very kind to her, unlike Shady, he is short-tempered. Farah means a lot to Tarek. He cares so much about her that he wants to protect her from everything at all costs – even if sometimes it could hurt his own dignity.
6- Farah’s relationship with her mother Dalal or “Dida” – portrayed by Rania Youssef – is so unique. Do you think it’s rare in our society?
From my very humble point of view, I think the very close mother-daughter relationship between Farah and Dalal is not at all rare. It does exist, but maybe not on a large scale. Just like Farah is very close to Asmaa’s personality, Dida is also very close to Rania’s.
In real life, Rania Youssef is the mother who makes it a mission to be her daughters’ best friend and she really is. So for me, I think Farah and Dida’s relationship is very healthy. And apart from Dida’s character, I love Rania Youssef on a personal level so much!
7- Name celebrities you wish to star in a TV series or a movie with!
There are many names; it’s so hard to pick one. I love Maged El-Kedwani a lot! Yehia El-Fakharany, Sawsan Badr…I could go on all day!
8- Tell us about the characters you portrayed that remained a part of you!
Believe it or not, literally all of them! My character as Tokka in “Haza El-Mas’aa”, for example, was too special for me. I’m so grateful to director Tamer Mohsen for believing in me and producer Ahmed Medhat Sadek for nominating me for the role. Especially since I was a new talent and not many people knew me back then. It was a big role and a huge responsibility!
“Layali Eugenie” was also close to my heart because it was set in a different era and this is something I’m personally fond of. I was honestly so sad it was over because I was going to miss the set, the fashion, the sophisticated attitude and all of that.
I also loved Azza in “Ana Shahira, Ana El-Khae’n”, and I sympathized a great deal with her. On the other hand, Noga in “Hogan” was a whole other story for me. I loved her a lot and I enjoyed portraying her because I felt that I had space to play with this character and try a lot of different attitudes and reactions with her.
9- Are we going to see you in Ramadan 2020? What about your upcoming projects?
So far, I’m not really sure whether or not I’ll take part in the Ramadan season. As for the big screen, I’m currently working on Peter Mimi’s “Moussa” alongside Eyad Nassar, Karim Mahmoud Abdelaziz, Sara El-Shami and more!
But a release date is yet to be set as we’ve paused the shooting for a while. There’s also a comedy that we already wrapped up with Bayoumi Fouad, Mohamed Tharwat, Mahmoud El-Leithy, and Hoda Najm.
10- You have a beautiful voice and everyone knows you can really sing! Should we expect any singing project soon, maybe an album?
I do sing but I don’t have any plans related to singing at the moment. However, if I got offered a song with nice lyrics and music and most importantly, something I could feel myself in, I’ll go for it! Not sure about an album though. If it ever happens, it’ll most probably be a single. But in the end, I’m mainly an actress who likes singing!
11- A lot of celebrities are into social media, but some of them are completely not. What about you? How do you see the world of social media?
For me, social media is a double-edged weapon. It surely has the power to destroy but it could also build a lot. In the previous eras, big stars made their names from nothing when social media wasn’t around. But our time is different. A lot of people now keep up with social media in order to know who they should tune in for. Therefore it’s essential to some extent.
That being said, people shouldn’t be ranked according to the number of followers they have, for example. Because there are some really deserving talents who aren’t appreciated on social media.
There’s also no denying that there are people out there who make some really tough comments when they could simply state their opinion in a constructive way. But I believe that you can neither tell people how to feel nor force them to agree on something/someone. I try my best to stay focused on constructive criticism!