Veteran Egyptian actress Yousra began acting in cinema in the mid-1970s. She gradually gained great popularity in cinema, starring in some of the most important films in the history of Egyptian cinema. Her roles in films and TV series are trailblazing and continue to influence and inspire generations.
Her notable films include One Woman Is Not Enough, Birds of Darkness, and Terror and Kebab. She also has important roles in television series, including Raafat Al-Hagan, Where is My Heart, Case of Public Opinion, and Betrayal of Ahed.
Yousra was named one of the World’s 100 Most Powerful Arab Women in 2014, and a member of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (The Oscars), in recognition of her rich cinematic history.
She received over 80 awards, certificates of appreciation, from international film festivals all over the world.
Her latest TV drama, Betrayal of Ahed, aired on TV during Ramadan 2020 witnessed huge success. The serial drama won her the DG Best Actress award and received the DG Best Series at the Dear Guest Awards in December 2020.
Using her fame for a good cause, Yousra is a social worker who gives back to the community and helps raise awareness and supports many social causes. She was chosen by the United Nations to be the Regional UNAIDS Goodwill Ambassador as she has been known for her participation in social activities with many civil society organisations.
Daily News Egypt interviewed Yousra to learn about her upcoming works, especially her new TV series Happy Journey.
● Do you prefer to release your TV series in the month of Ramadan?
The good story and script are what encourages me to work in Ramadan. I only work with production companies that handle the series’ marketing very well and present me to the market properly. I do not ask producers to release my works in Ramadan. Good works will succeed, whether in Ramadan or otherwise. Even though my works may be subject to injustice for broadcasting them in unsuitable times.
● What is your upcoming work this year?
I am filming a new series called “Happy Journey”, written by Hala Khalil, directed by Amr Arafa, and produced by Gamal El-Adl. It’s co-starred by Ghada Adel, Mai Kassab, Nour Mahmoud, Nabil Nour El-Din, and Jihan Al-Shamashirgy. The series is about an unfamiliar character.
● Is it true that the series is a biography of a public figure?
— This is not true. This series will represent a new stage in acting for me and television drama. It is full of suspense and comedy.
● Do you expect “Happy Journey” to achieve the same success as your previous works?
– The success achieved by the series “Harb Ahlya” (Family Conflict) put me in trouble. I do not know whether the audience will accept the new series or not. The great success puts me under pressure, because the fans will be waiting for more distinguished works. The new series addresses a new topic, and the character that I play is very rich in emotions and complicated. I like this type of role as an actress, and I think it will resonate with the audience.
● Could you tell us more about this character?
– I play the character of a teacher who suffers from some crises in her life, and the events follow in a comedic framework. The series revolves around three friends who are exposed to difficult situations throughout the series, and each one has a different personality from the other.
● Are you usually involved in the casting process for your works?
Director is primarily responsible for the work and casting, but I must be comfortable with my fellow actors so that I can give my best. I sit with the director and producer before filming to exchange opinions about the work team because the audience, in the end, considers the star responsible for the work as a whole.
● Some people said you are the highest-earning actress in Egypt now, is it true?
An artist’s wage is determined according to his stardom and popularity. The producer determines the artist’s wage after making sure that he deserves double this wage, and that he will gain a lot from it. Despite that, some stars exaggerate their wages, but in the end, wages are determined by the success of the work. It is a matter of supply and demand anyway. A film star has the right to receive a proper wage that matches his stardom, history, and effort.
● You presented many series that addressed social issues. Are you always concerned with social causes?
Indeed, I am concerned with social causes that I present in my works. It is the artist’s role to address major issues and try to find solutions for them.
My series “A Case of Public Opinion” dealt with rape. In the series “In Safe Hands”, we discussed a social issue that concerns all children. This year, I present a series that has a different spirit. I’d like to play a different character in every film or TV series.
● Despite the great confidence you speak with, I feel that you are a bit anxious, aren’t you?
I am anxious about this work and whether the audience will accept it or not. I believe this is a natural feeling. Since I was young, I have experienced many successes and failures throughout my career, and success scares more than failure!
It puts you under pressure. The public will be waiting for even higher quality works. I may present a distinguished work, however; it does not succeed!
● Have you finished filming the new series?
We are filming the last scenes during this period. The production company communicates with the Ministry of Health and related government agencies to take all medical precautions, and sterilize all filming sites. We also avoid overcrowding. My generation has experienced many curfews, but this pandemic is the worst. We all wear masks and gloves in the studios, and remove them only during the filming.
● Why are you always keen to introduce young actors in your works?
Young actors always need support. As an artist, I feel that it is my duty to give them the opportunity if they are talented. My generation was luckier than this generation. I also love the presence of young people in my work. This is a policy I have been following for years, and this is my role as an artist to allow new talents to emerge.
● How do you respond when your series is criticized?
I am used to criticism, but I do not respond. Those who attack my works usually did not watch them at all. My works address important issues and raise awareness of people. Artistic works must reflect reality.
● It’s been a while since your last film, when will you return to the cinema?
I like to be more careful about my choices in the cinema. I want to present good and respectable works to achieve the success I want.
● You have a special artistic relationship with Adel Imam, starring together in many films with sweeping box-office success, how do you see this relation now?
My relationship with Adel Imam is a human relationship in the first place, and he is not an ordinary actor, but is a mage star. We have great respect and admiration for each other. I will never forget his support for me in several incidents. There is no doubt that he is a great artist who deserves all appreciation and respect from everyone. I worked in 14 films with him.
● Do you think the younger generation beat yours in cinema?
This is not true. My relationship with most young actresses is good, and most of them worked with me, such as Mona Zaki, Mai Ezz El-Din, Menna Fadali, and others. I do not believe there is a conflict between generations.
● Who is competing with Yousra?
I am not concerned with art jealousy and I don’t know if anyone is competing with me or not. I like to challenge myself in every film or TV series. The audience is the only judge.