Salma Abu Deif is having a stellar 2017. The rising Egyptian actor and model has been making waves for her starring role in the Amr Salama-directed drama Sheikh Jackson, about a young imam who finds himself preoccupied with Michael Jackson’s music after the pop star’s death. The movie, which made its international debut at the Toronto International Film Festival, went on to be selected as the Egyptian entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 90th Academy Awards. Considering that her role as the main character’s teenage crush was her first movie stint, the 24-year-old’s budding career is undoubtedly on the up-and-up.
However, Sheikh Jackson wasn’t her first foray in front of the cameras. The brunette beauty, who launched her acting career this year, also has two Ramadan television series under her belt. With her long, raven locks, doe-eyed gaze, and enviable brows, Abu Deif is also a well-known model in Egypt, appearing in a number of local editorials and campaigns. Anticipating her next big accomplishment, Vogue.me caught up with Abu Deif to discuss her dream role, being selected as the Best Fresh Face at the Toronto International Film Festival, her icons, and more below.
You’ve had quite the year. What have been some of the highlights?
This has been my favorite year of my life so far. It’s been so generous to me. In 2017, I started my acting career, I attended my first film festival, I received my first award as the Best Fresh Face actress, and my movie Sheikh Jackson made it into many prestigious film festivals – from Toronto to possibly the Oscars. So, I call 2017 my year of lucky firsts.
How did you land a role in Sheikh Jackson?
I was a model for three years prior to starting my acting career, so my face was already pretty familiar through social media and some fashion videos. Amr Salama then approached me to audition for his movie and I accepted.
Tell us about your character in the film.
My character is as a teenage girl, around 16 or 17 years old, who is passionate about music, especially Michael Jackson’s. She ends up becoming a trigger and motive for Doda [the main character] to develop his love and interest for the singer, which later turns into a common interest between them and eventually a teenage crush.
Your dream role?
Many come to mind, but I would love to do a girl with psychological issues, a detective, warrior, or a rockstar.
How did it feel to be honored with the Best Fresh Face award for your first film?
I’m so happy and thankful. Honestly, I didn’t expect it all because it happened so quickly. I have been working so hard for something like this and now it’s finally happening.
You have worked on both the big and small screen. Which one do you prefer?
Cinema, because cinema will never die. Also, what you put out in cinema will reach so many people on an international level.
Does your instant success in acting mean the end of your modeling career?
I’d rather focus on my acting career for now. Unless any really cool international projects arise.
Namecheck an actor you look up to.
Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, and Helena Bonham Carter, just to name a few.
What do you do to prepare yourself before the camera starts rolling?
I do some warm-ups for the body, similar to that of meditating, so my body and mind are awake and aware. Also, drinking Turkish coffee has been a lifesaver countless times.
Tell us something that no one knows about you.
I would love to learn Spanish and French. I also love spicy food and molokhia.
How would you describe your style?
My style really depends on my mood. Sometimes it’s urban, sometimes I keep it simple and chic, and other times I’m more tomboyish. I love being girly and keeping it classy at times as well.
What are your sartorial guilty pleasures?
Always a pair of shoes or earrings.
Interview by Khulood Ahmed.
Makeup artist: Sharif Tanyous
Stylist: Farrah’s Studio
Location: Dakhli West El Balad, Downtown Cairo