Path to stardom
“I planned to study medicine,” shares Lebanese actor Cynthia Samuel, but then she switched to television and film at the Lebanese American University. Soon afterward, she was named first runner-up at Miss Lebanon and went on to represent her country at the Miss Universe pageant in 2015, which ultimately served to propel her acting career. She landed her first role in the romantic comedy series Beirut City, followed by the drama Khamsa w Nos. “My second television series with Sabbah Media ended up being a hit and skyrocketed my career,” she says. She was cast in a supporting role on the popular series Ma Fiyi before scoring a new lead in Men el Ehir, which is currently in production. “I didn’t think I could become an actor in the Middle East because my Arabic wasn’t the best,” she admits. “But during my preparations for Miss Lebanon, my mother helped me to improve by teaching me how to read and articulate,” she continues. “I wouldn’t have been able to do it without her.” Samuel also attributes training at an acting academy from the age of 13 for her skills in front of the camera. “The future is bright. I can only look forward to what is yet to come.”
Reading between the lines
Samuel takes a break from the long hours on set by cracking open a good book. “I love reading. It feels good to step away from all the technology and flip the pages of a book,” she says. Currently on her list is The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. “I admire this book. It is so deep and makes you think about how society perceives things.” Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret, a gift from her late father, is a title she often picks up for positive affirmations. Turning to the healing powers of poetry is one of Samuel’s favorite ways to unwind. “I’m a big fan of poetry, and Rupi Kaur’s The Sun and Her Flowers is beautiful,” she shares.
Reconnecting with nature
While a typical week involves being on set, the actor starts her day with meditation and writing in her journal. “The best piece of advice I’ve ever received from my parents is to be grateful for what I have and fight for what I don’t have – and that I can do anything I set my mind to. I live by this advice every day and remind myself that I can do or be anything I want by writing it down when I wake up,” Samuel says. She also finds balance by lacing up her Reebok or Axel Arigato sneakers to go on hikes. “I love the mountains with its beautiful and outstanding views of Beirut’s nature,” she explains. She also likes to feel the sand in-between her toes in Batroun on a relaxing day by the water.
Samuel’s signature look consists of a dewy and radiant glow, which includes flushed cheeks, nude lips, and highlighter to give her a luminous complexion. She also pays close attention to her eyebrows. “It’s the feature I focus on the most. Ever since I was a little girl, my mother used to go crazy over the fact that I did not know how to shape my brows. They were horrible; I went through a bad phase,” she admits with a laugh. “Eventually, she taught me how to groom them, and I took my sweet time taming them. After all, they are the center of the face. I build everything around them,” she explains. Her lush eyelashes are also often mistaken for falsies, but the actor credits a home remedy for enhancing her full set. “My secret is mixing olive oil and Vitamin E oil, then combing it over my lashes every night before going to sleep,” she reveals. “I also use the same oil to help grow my eyebrows.”
“I choose my outfits according to my makeup and hair,” says Samuel about her approach to dressing up for public appearances. For the orange carpet at the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards, she donned a lime Jessica K suit that complemented her electric green eyeliner. For the Vogue Arabia X MAC Love Me Lipstick launch party, she channeled Cindy Crawford. “I had crazy big hair and yellow makeup. I wore this beautiful retro dress from Roni Helou that I matched with a pair of Andrea Wazen heels. It was definitely a hit!”
Samuel cherishes her nostalgic collection of family heirlooms. “I’m a sucker for vintage treasures, like my mother’s Fendi Baguette that I try to keep in perfect condition so I can pass it on to my daughters in the future,” she says. “I also have her Chanel coat.” As for hints of sparkle? Samuel combines new-era designs with heritage pieces. “I stack my gold Cartier love ring with a crossed diamond ring and another thin Cartier one,” she explains, flashing her hand to reveal a Boucheron ring on her other hand, where she also sports her grandmother’s vintage Cartier watch. “I love it very much,” she says. “She’s had it for so long, and the fact that she gave it to me is a huge honor.”
Originally published in the June 2020 issue of Vogue Arabia