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10 of Hend Sabri’s Most Meaningful Life Lessons

Hend Sabri shares a powerful message of hope as the cover star of the Vogue Arabia September 2020 issue

Actor Hend Sabri was photographed in Cairo by Ämr Ezzeldinn and styled by Yasmine Eissa.

We don’t use the term trailblazer too often, but when describing Hend Sabri, trailblazer doesn’t even begin to cover it. This award-winning multi-hyphenate is not only breaking boundaries within the film industry but also societally, forging new paths for Arab women everywhere. As a part of a generation of regional creatives who are subverting stereotypes and bringing to life real, complex stories that explore diverse Arab identities, Sabri is bridging cultural understanding on an international level, from being the first Arab woman to represent the region on renowned festival juries to executive producing and starring in a new original Arabic series on Netflix. Off-screen, you can find the Tunisian actor continuing her role as a harbinger of progress through her impassioned fight for gender equality, empowering silenced women to speak up for their long-overdue rights and urging her fellow female colleagues to be vocal about their well-earned successes.

Read on for some of the most meaningful life lessons from the former Vogue Arabia cover star.

On treasuring Arab diversity

“I think we should cherish our diversity because there’s a tendency in the media or even in the movies to portray all Arab people as one. As a stereotype. I am fighting this. There is a bond, we are bonded by cultural heritage, we are bonded by language, we are bonded by religion sometimes, but what makes us unique and different is what we should cherish.”

On the importance of creative freedom

“I want to play roles without being a prisoner of misconceptions, without being sidelined. Freedom is my ultimate goal. I believe in an artist’s freedom…I’ve always tried to escape the cage that sometimes the audience and the filmmakers want to put actors in.”

On the purpose of cinema

“This is what cinema is about; pushing boundaries. It’s about asking questions; initiating a dialogue between people who don’t necessarily think the same. There is no judgment in this film.”

On spotlighting regional talent

“I work in the region and I think this region needs us. It needs its talent. It needs people who can inspire, who can prove to the youth that you don’t have to ‘cross over’ to be someone. They don’t have to be a tool to tell stereotyped narratives about the Middle East.”

Also Read: Hend Sabri On Her Motivations For The Roles She Chooses And Her Hopes For The Arab Film Industry

Hend Sabri shares a powerful message of hope as the cover star of the Vogue Arabia September 2020 issue

The actor and activist Hend Sabri stands in front of a mural with words of female empowerment. Photography: Ämr Ezzeldinn

On gender equality in film

“Many actors around the world are talking about the same thing and when you love an industry, you want to see it expand and develop. Gender equality and equal pay would make the industry better so I don’t see courage in addressing that, I just see responsibility over an industry I like and the job that I chose.”

“As women, we have to be more vocal and defend ourselves more and promote ourselves better as actresses but also as screenwriters, and producers. They exist, but there aren’t enough.”

On the playful side of fashion

“I like to play with the codes a little and experiment with feminine and masculine…Maybe because I’m more self-confident—I don’t have the same insecurities I used to have when I was 20 with my body, my face—I’m more in-tune with myself so I can play more. And I love the playful part of it.”

On supporting Arab designers

“There are lots of local designers in Tunisia, Morocco, and Egypt. I really like designers who play more and more with the local culture, with the traditional costumes.”

On self-care

“Sleep is the ultimate beauty secret. When you’ve slept and you’re rested you look fantastic even without makeup.”

On getting out of your own way

“The biggest challenge is yourself. It always is yourself. It’s your fears. It’s what holds you, it’s what tells you ‘don’t go there; it’s an unchartered territory, it’s too risky, it’s new.’ It’s always myself that I had to overcome every time because once you overcome that fear the sky is the limit.”

On the key to success

“Real success comes from not trying to imitate anyone or a format or a model. Real success comes from being so unique and introspective and finding what’s inside of you that you really want to convey to the world. If its fake people will know it. We need more truth and authenticity.”

Read Next: Hend Sabri on Being Discovered as a Teenager and the Perception of Arab Cinema with Manuel Arnaut

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