Sulaf Fawakhergy on a hike to local stardom

Sarah El Sirgany
5 Min Read

While commercial billboards feature her picture, the actress is looking for “quality roles

CAIRO: Everyone who has watched Halim comments on the actress that plays Jihan: the title character s true love. She is stunningly beautiful and now the role of the real life woman who was arguably Abdel Halim Hafez s only love has apparently earned the actress a place among the stars.

Her name is Sulaf Fawakhergy, a Syrian actress who made her Egyptian debut in this summer s high-budget production Halim. She has participated in a multitude of Syrian productions ranging from theater to cinema to TV. The latter composes the bulk of her acting experiences, including over 25 TV serials.

While most local actors head to the big screen in hopes of gaining more popularity, sometimes dropping out of TV altogether, for Fawakhergy, television was probably her gate to fame. Over the past couple of years, Syrian dramas have been gaining momentum. In fact, Syrian TV serials have begun replacing the-once-dominant Egyptian dramas on pan-Arab satellite stations during prime time in Ramadan.

Her first contact with Halim s crew came when producer Emad El-Din Adib first spotted her in Syrian productions and suggested she participate in his company s second major production. She later met with director Sherif Arafa and they agreed to cooperate.

Unlike the rest of the film s cast who play famous figures in the Arab music scene, Fawakhergy was playing a character out of the limelight. To achieve the true to life depiction the film was aiming for, she did her homework, trying to get closer to the character: she read the material Arafa had collected regarding Jihan s story and met with people who knew her.

Almost two years later, walking down the red carpet at the Cairo Opera House during Halim s premier, Fawakhergy says the experience wasn t much different than the glamorous Cannes, where the international premier of the film took place. She especially notes Abdel Halim Hafez s songs echoing in the background and Ahmed Zaki s photos on adjoining walls.

Fawakhergy regrets that she only met with the film s star, late actor Zaki, one time during the ceremony celebrating the kickoff of Halim filming. Her scenes in the film were with Haitham Ahmed Zaki who played the young Halim.

Nonetheless, her experience on set was fascinating, she notes. She enjoyed working with the cast and crew and remembers the one time she met with Zaki as an extraordinary moment.

But making such a remarkable debut has possibly raised the bar too high. She s been reading and rejecting scripts for a few months. If I can t find something of a higher level than Halim s then at least it would on the same level, she explains.

She isn t only referring to the high budget of the production but to the quality of filmmaking and the role. She has always looked for the role, she continues, regardless of the medium, whether that is cinema, TV or theater. And she isn t confining herself to a genre, looking instead for diversity and considers venturing into comedy as much as into drama. This, of course, is on the condition that the role is qualitative.

But meanwhile, as she travels between Egypt and Syria, she s been keeping busy. Capitalizing on one of her strong points, the actress has become the face of a hair product [Pantene] in Egypt. Now, her face adorns numerous billboards around town making her a beauty ambassador for the company.

She is now committed to taking extra care of her complexion and hair. I thought I used to take good care of my hair, but after [I joined the company] I learnt a lot. In a busy schedule between filming in Syria, shooting advertisements in Europe and coming to Egypt to meet her friends and potential work associates, she s been doing great at keeping up appearances. Sitting down for the early morning interview with minimum makeup and hair tied back, she looked just as stunning as she did in her Halim scenes.

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