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“I just always wanted to be impressive” — Why Yousra Needs Only One Name and No Introduction

There’s a reason why Egypt’s screen idol Yousra needs only one name, and no introduction…

VOGUE ARABIA COVER MARCH 2020 Yousra. Photography: Hassan Hajjaj

Yousra wears blouse, Pucci; shirt, Maison Rabih Kayrouz; pants, socks, Andy Wahloo Super-Lux; shoes, photographer’s own; earrings, rings, Yousra’s own

It’s a warm spring day in Marrakech and Egyptian superstar Yousra is in a purple tuk tuk that’s rattling along old, narrow streets through a vibrant medina. Music from a local band playing on classical sintirs and castanets fills the air with its traditional rhythms. The carriage might not be classically regal, yet the moment feels very much like a royal parade – her majesty, the queen of Middle Eastern cinema, has arrived.

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When Yousra enters the riad belonging to artist and photographer Hassan Hajjaj for this anniversary cover shoot, the atmosphere drips with excitement. “We are in the presence of a legend,” says an awestruck assistant. The comment is no overstatement. A bona fide superstar, Yousra goes by one name. She’s starred in more than 80 movies, has received more than 60 awards, and this year was chosen to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which votes on the Oscars. She has helped define Arab cinema and shine a light on the industry, which overwise might have been overshadowed by the West.

VOGUE ARABIA COVER MARCH 2020 Yousra. Photography: Hassan Hajjaj

Yousra wears blanket, Hajjaj’s Own, hat, Andy Wahloo Super-Lux; shoes, Givenchy; sunglasses, Andy Wahloo Super-Lux X Poppy Lissiman. Photographed by Hassan Hajjaj for Vogue Arabia March 2020

“It is a great honor for me to be on the Oscars academy,” says Yousra in her typically husky tone. The actor, who was one of three Egyptian celebrities (along with producer Mohamed Hefzy and director Amr Salama) invited to join the academy, is humble about the role. “I believe the academy is one of the most prestigious in the world, and being part of it means so much to me.”

In Hajjaj’s studio, typically a kaleidoscope of color and buzzing with organized chaos, Yousra is laughing, her genuine warmth settling any nerves the team members might have. She’s flying to Los Angeles for the awards ceremony in the morning, so there’s a time crunch to be dealt with. Unsurprisingly, she whizzes through each look without complaint – she may be a legend, but she is no diva.

Yousra credits her husband, Khaled Selim, for her grounded attitude. “I respect the way he can handle my life as an actor and the way he is patient. He is proud of me when I take a new step and it is a successful one,” she reveals in a rare quiet moment. The actor is not usually comfortable talking about her relationship – she “doesn’t want to jinx it.” Not that she runs from the notion of it, of course. When asked what makes them such a successful duo, she replies, “Please can you say, ‘God bless your relationship’ instead of asking such a question,” adding, “Khaled and I have known each other since we were children. Without him, I don’t think I could manage to do all this.”

VOGUE ARABIA COVER MARCH 2020 Yousra. Photography: Hassan Hajjaj

Yousra wears dress, shoes Balenciaga; hat, Andy Wahloo Super-Lux; glasses, Andy Wahloo Super-Lux X Poppy Lissiman. Photographed by Hassan Hajjaj for Vogue Arabia March 2020

Yousra was 17 when she realized she wanted to become an actor – before that, she wanted to be a diplomat. Her onscreen history dates back to the late 70s, with her debut in Abdel Halim Nasr’s Castle in the Air, and her breakthrough roles in Ebtesama Wahida Takfy and Azkiaa Laken Aghbyaa. She went on to work with prominent Egyptian directors – most notably Youssef Chahine – and rapidly established her position as one of the highest paid stars in the industry, as well as one of the Arab world’s most powerful women.

“I just always wanted to be impressive”

“I just always wanted to be impressive,” says Yousra of her career and work ethic, which has contributed to her lauded status. “If people don’t appreciate your work and don’t see you as a legend, you will never be a legend. You have to understand that you are working for people and that you have to be working to their expectations.”

“Being a legend, you must have something. You are not free as you were when you were unknown. You are always under a special kind of pressure, and expectations of people toward you. But without those people, you will never be a legend,” she explains, adding for future stars, “Be humble as much as you can but at the same time, don’t expose too much of your private life.”

VOGUE ARABIA COVER MARCH 2020 Yousra. Photography: Hassan Hajjaj

Yousra wears coat, Dolce & Gabbana; jumper, Pucci; glasses, Andy Wahloo Super-Lux X Poppy Lissiman. Photographed by Hassan Hajjaj for Vogue Arabia March 2020

While she prefers to maintain a guarded privacy, her “sad childhood” is something she does offer some insight into. “I had a tough life when my father took me from my mother,” she says emotionally about the separation following a bitter divorce. “From their divorce I learned that things can still go on and you just need to handle your children with care, love, and honesty. Give them the chance to express themselves. I have to give it to my mother as she was my friend, my mom, and my backbone. She gave me all this. She made me who I am today.”

And who is that person? “A feminist” who believes in equality at work and in personal life. It’s this belief that has seen her purposefully tackle powerful characters and taboo topics. “I choose to play strong roles for women because we have a lot of stories of different women in our society who can be legends but we don’t use them enough. I’m trying to put these legends in the episodes I make,” she shares.

“We changed laws – you can change life through cinema.”

While she hasn’t pursued a political path, she has used her status to help push boundaries and even change laws. “When I made the rape episodes for the Ramadan series Fawk Mustawa Al Shobohat, everyone was against it, but in the end, everyone was clapping and it received the biggest viewership ever.” The show led to Egyptian laws toward rapists being changed. “Before, the law said that a rapist should go to prison for only one or two months. Now, he is very much punished. We changed laws – you can change life through cinema.”

VOGUE ARABIA COVER MARCH 2020 Yousra. Photography: Hassan Hajjaj

Yousra wears hat, Andy Wahloo Super-Lux; glasses, Andy Wahloo Super-Lux X Poppy Lissiman; blanket, photographer’s own. Photographed by Hassan Hajjaj for Vogue Arabia March 2020

Outside of the film industry, Yousra works tirelessly as a UN Goodwill ambassador for the Middle East and Africa to change the lives of those less fortunate. “Before being an ambassador, I also did humanitarian work, but being an ambassador offers much more responsibility,” she says. “I’m honored because being a Goodwill ambassador is trying to put the good in everything you do, not only in the mission you have.”

Her reach and engagement with her audience and fans is incredible, especially for someone who shuns social media – she simply will have no part in it. In fact, it’s the only time during the interview when her behavior shifts. “Before, we were stars without social media. Now I feel like anyone can be a star,” she says. “People listen to me because they know I’m not a hypocrite. I talk when I believe, and when I believe it comes from the heart.”

Not chasing likes has had little effect on her career – if anything, fans respect and idolize her more. When it comes to her own role models, she is quick to cite actors Faten Hamama and Nadia Lotfy, as well as her mother. “I had a lot to learn from these ladies, in all aspects of my life, and was lucky to have them,” she explains. “I’m proud that my mother was truly proud of me. She gave me the best love, care, and the best example in my life.”

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Her father was somewhat more critical of her career, infamously slapping her across the face following her first onscreen kiss. “It’s something called الدنيا†علمتني†(what life taught me),” shares Yousra of the memory. “It didn’t make me ashamed at all that I did it. On the contrary, I’m proud of each and every scene I have made in the cinema.”

Despite her personal hardships, the superstar espouses positive thinking and mindfulness. Her ability to swat away bad vibes is admirable, especially in a job that comes with public scrutiny. “When you want to forget the bad or to dismiss someone from your life, just leave them to God,” she says calmly.

“Never take revenge into your own hands.” Yousra’s unflappable confidence comes to the fore throughout the cover shoot. She is completely comfortable in her own skin – and that skin is glowing and dewy, her smile infectious, her style that of a 1950s screen siren. She is the epitome of elegance and won’t bow down to pressures from the film industry. “I simply don’t care about aging,” she says with Oprah-style conviction, which makes everyone immediately want to jump in the air with applause. If she was on Instagram, she’d be the ultimate self-love guru. But for now, she’ll be taking over screens this coming Ramadan in the series Dahab Eira (Fake Gold). “I achieved in my 40 years of work whatever I wanted to achieve and whatever I wanted to dream of,” she says. “I love my age and I love my looks. I’m proud of who I am and how I look, and how I present things – Hamdoullilah.”

Originally published in the March 2020 issue of Vogue Arabia

Photography Hassan Hajjaj 
Style Katie Trotter & Lisa Jarvis
Creative producer Laura Prior  
Art accomplice Ebon Heath 
Second assistant Tariq Hajjaj
Local producer Marie Courtin 
Hair Sadek Lardjane 
Makeup Jo Frost
Photography assistants Hasnae El Quarga and Meriem Yin
Style assistant Alexandria Lefevre 
Runner Yazid Bezaz, Abdelali Boukrimi, Mohammed Ajib
Studio Riad Yima, Marrakech
With special thanks to Four Seasons Resort Marrakech

Read Next: 8 of Yousra’s Milestone Moments Illustrating Her Icon Status

This Poignant Conversation of Dr. Sara Al Madani and Her Mother Will Make You Call Your Mom Right Now

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Perfumes are so deeply personal, and have the power to trigger emotions and evoke memories of cherished moments and relationships in your life. And what’s more significant than the special bond between a daughter and her mother? Do you recall your earliest memory with the most important woman in your life? Is it her smile, her touch, or her smell? Rasasi, the family-owned, Middle Eastern perfume house, with 40 years of mastery in perfumery, certainly understands the importance of the extraordinary bond a daughter shares with her mother, celebrating the unique relationship through their iconic line-up of fragrances.

In the sweet video above, ahead of Mother’s Day (March 21), Emirati entrepreneur Dr. Sara Al Madani and her mother open up about the significant role fragrance plays in Arab culture, passing down timeless scents through generations, and their favorite perfume from Rasasi’s inimitable range of fragrances.

Now Read: These Celebrities Can Prove That Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend

Here’s How To Add Some Color To Your Smokey Eye Makeup

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Toni Malt, the Middle East‘s leading international editorial makeup artist, author of makeup book Transform and owner of the prestigious Toni Malt Makeup Academy, shares her expertise in the first part of a series of educational and inspiring ‘how to’ make up tutorials designed specifically for Vogue Arabia’s readers.

Curated as a clever step by step guide to achieving the most sought after looks from the season at home, Toni guides us through a bold, feline, metallic smokey eye with insider tips and knowledge taken from her exclusive masterclasses.

Now Read: 7 Easy Practices To Help You Keep Track of Your Health This Year

Model: Tatyana B at Wilhelmina Dubai
Video: Jules Bek
Makeup assistant: Miriam Cavallin at Toni Malt Academy

Behind-the-Scenes of Ciara’s First Ever Vogue Cover

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Did you know that prior to Vogue Arabia’s Spring 2019 cover shoot, Ciara was afraid of horses? “It’s funny because growing up I loved horses, and I always admired their beauty,” the star says recalling the nightmarish incident when she lost control of her ride during a horseback-riding excursion on the beach. “When my ride decided to take off and gallop in another direction, I saw my entire life flashing in front of my eyes,” she states. The star certainly got the chance to overcome that phobia in the February 2019 issue. Wearing a bohemian Saint Laurent dress, with her long, black hair flowing in the wind, Ciara takes control of two magnificent stallions belonging to UAE royal HH Sheikha Fatima Rashed Al Maktoum.

It’s the Grammy award-winning singer’s first Vogue cover, one that she is undoubtedly proud of. “This shoot was a dream. I overcame my fears of working with horses again too! So proud. God is good,” she wrote on Twitter when the English and Arabic covers were unveiled this week.

Indeed, the 33-year-old has plenty to be proud of. But the certified hitmaker — her debut single Goodies went triple platinum — counts motherhood as her biggest accomplishment of all. “I am an only child, so I always had a strong desire to have siblings, and that triggered my will to have more kids. They are an extension of my legacy and they keep me young. Motherhood definitely gives you a new conscience. My kids help me to feel motivated and keep things in perspective,” said the mother of Future, four and Sienna, one. “Seeing my kids dancing to my music or hearing my husband saying he is proud of me makes me feel accomplished,” she admits.

In the breathtaking 50-second clip above, the singer runs up a dune in a frothy Molly Goddard gown and Alexandre Vauthier hat, tames horses, and poses, barefoot in the Arabian desert. Don’t forget to pick up your issue of the magazine when it hits shelves on February 1 to read the full interview.

Now Read: Riding High on Style, Ciara Lands Her First Vogue Cover

Videographer: Hyku Desesto
Fashion Director: Katie Trotter
Production: Snap14
Hair: Cesar Ramirez
Makeup: Niki M’nray

These Celebrities Can Prove That Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend

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Last month, Vogue Arabia hosted the inaugural Ball of Arabia, a high profile charity gala hosted in partnership with Tiffany & Co. at Dubai’s Burj Al Arab. The glamorous event, which helped to raise funds for UNICEF’s Girls Education and Empowerment Program in the MENA region, was attended by the likes of Middle Eastern royalty, regional and international celebrities, as well as fashion insiders including Mohamed Hadid, Maya Diab, Lara Stone, and Yasmine Sabri. Meanwhile, entertainment was provided by superstar singer Ciara. In the video above, Maritta Hallani, Lara Scandar, Aram Kabbani, and Salma Abu Deif showcase some of the luxury jeweler’s most dazzling designs in celebration of the Ball of Arabia. After all, diamonds are a girls best friend.

Video: Photo Boutique
Production: Snap Fourteen
Hair: Diego Miranda
Makeup: Soha Khoury
Choreography: Shaymaa Shoukry
Styling: Bosaina

 

This Egyptian-Lebanese Photographer’s New Fashion Film is An Ode to Dubai and New York

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Finding MĀ is finding oneself between here and there. The journey between space and time. It is the cross roads of two cities I lived,” explains award-winning fashion photographer Toufic Araman of his latest video project produced in collaboration with Vogue Arabia. “MĀ refers to rooms, as well as spaces between structures,” he states. The Egyptian-Lebanese photographer, who splits his time between New York and Dubai, rounded up a crew of ultra-talented creatives that included stylists, poets, sound composers, editors, among others to realize this vision of wanderlust, which translated into a beautiful fashion film that flawlessly captures the similarities (and differences) of the two cities he calls home. Watch the striking clip above.

Production
Director: Toufic Araman
Director of Photography: Erik Swain
Stylist: Newheart Ohanian
Model: Dalianah Arekion, New York Model Management
Poetry: Christina Andreassen
Editor: Lucas Fossati
Producer: Gabriel Montagnani
Hair: Shintaro Teraoka
Makeup: Ana Sequira
Sound Composer and Design: Kevin Pollard
Voice: Mylène Gomera
Casting Director: Barbara Pfister

Wardrobe
Look 1
DsQuared Ruffled dress; Christian Siriano dress; DsQuared neck tie; DsQuared leggings; Alexander Wang corset belt; Erickson Beamon jewelry; DsQuared shoes.

Look 2
Fendi jumpsuit; Keren Wolf headband; Giorgio Armani purse; Miu Miu shoes.

Look 3
Miu Miu coat; Miu Miu shoes; Giorgio Armani purse.

Look 4
Marc Jacobs dress; Marc Jacobs belt; Giorgio Armani boots; GBGH choker.

Look 5
Dolce and Gabbana gown; GBGH rings.

Look 6
YSL dress; Dolce & Gabbana bag; Keren Wolf bracelet; Keren Wolf earrings.

Look 7
Giorgio Armani dress; Keren Wolf earring.

Charlotte Tilbury Reveals Her Top Tips For a Flawless Complexion

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Celebrity makeup artist to the stars Charlotte Tilbury returns to share her tips and tricks for achieving a flawless complexion. “I always say if you want a beautiful painting, you have to have a beautiful canvas,” she begins. Showcasing her award-winning products she shares the iconic story behind Charlotte’s Magic Cream, to the science behind her Instant Magic Dry Sheet Mask which is the first of its kind to penetrate down to the third layer of the epidermis.

Now Watch: Charlotte Tilbury Shares her Secrets for Glowing Skin

Egyptian Icon Laila Eloui Like You Have Never Seen Her Before

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She’s acted in over 70 movies, won multiple awards, and has been honored in film festivals around the world, and at 54- Laila Eloui is showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon. The Egyptian star, who made her acting debut at the age of seven, now finds herself in front of the camera again after her last on-screen appearance on Brooks, Meadows and Lovely Faces two-years-ago. But this time, she’s not taking on a character or reciting lines. Above, Ämr Ezzeldinn and Mohamed Gamal capture the Egyptian icon in an alluring fashion film for the December 2018 issue of Vogue Arabia.

Credits:
Director: Amr Ezzeldinn
Videographer: Mohamed Gamal

Production
: Snap14
Stylist: Bosaina
Hair: Mike at Hair n Flair
Make up: Diana Harby
Fashion assistants: Omneya Mourshed and Lana Kovalchuk
Shot on location at Cairo Camera Studios

In the video Eloui wears crown, Dina Mourad; Dress, Love Label; Earrings, Maison 69; Rings, Ammanii; Turtleneck, Marie Louis; Jewelry, Swarovski; Jacket, Gianfranco Ferre; Fur, Gorski; Gloves Dries Van Noten, Jacket, Marie Louis; Turtleneck, Ralph Lauren; Belt, Retromania London; Earrings, Stylist’s own; Top, Maison 69.

Now Watch: How Afef Jnifen Does Milan During Fashion Week

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She’s one of fashion’s most iconic runway stars, so is well-versed in keeping pace with Fashion Week. However, this season, Afef Jnifen let Vogue.me in on just what a day during the seasonal sartorial showcase holds for the Tunisian model and actor. Inviting us to join her during Milan Fashion Week, the former Vogue Arabia cover star gave us an insight into her city highlights during a typical day. From visiting ornate boutiques to covet their many treasures to catching up with friends over a coffee, here’s what Jnifen got up to between the shows of fashion week.

Now Read: Just In: The Street Style You Can’t Miss from Milan Fashion Week

Coffee With Nardine: Shereen Reda Reveals Her Key Advice for Men

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Last week, Egypt’s El Gouna was swamped with Arab actors, directors, models, and filmmakers, who all flocked to the resort town to celebrate the second edition of the annual El Gouna Film Festival, which wrapped up on Friday night. The week-long cinematic event, which kicked off on September 20, brought with it a host of stars, who came out in full force to support Arab theater and acknowledge their fellow peers who have helped to shape it.

Hosting the closing ceremony of this year’s festival was Nardine Farag, actor and host of MBC’s The Voice. Despite the festival’s jam-packed schedule, the Egyptian star, who has worked alongside Youssra in two TV series, took a little time out to catch up with her friends on the sidelines. In collaboration with Vogue.me, Farag is quizzing some of the Arab world’s brightest stars over a cup of coffee in a four-part series.

Previous episodes have featured Tunisian star Dorra Zarrouk, Egyptian actor Amina Khalil, and Alexandria-born actress, model, and ballerina Nelly Karim, and now Shereen Reda is starring in our final installment. The Egyptian actor joined Farag over a hot beverage to reveal her top beauty tips, how she manages a hectic schedule, her dream role, and who she’d most like to meet for a cup of coffee. Watch the full video above to see exactly what Reda had to say.

Now Read: Coffee With Nardine: Nelly Karim Shares Her Post-Filming Ritual

Production: Maison Pyramide
Director: Malak El Sawi
Stylist and art director: Alia El Dessouki

March 10, 2020

“I just always wanted to be impressive” — Why Yousra Needs Only One Name and No Introduction

There’s a reason why Egypt’s screen idol Yousra needs only one name, and no introduction…

VOGUE ARABIA COVER MARCH 2020 Yousra. Photography: Hassan Hajjaj

Yousra wears blouse, Pucci; shirt, Maison Rabih Kayrouz; pants, socks, Andy Wahloo Super-Lux; shoes, photographer’s own; earrings, rings, Yousra’s own

It’s a warm spring day in Marrakech and Egyptian superstar Yousra is in a purple tuk tuk that’s rattling along old, narrow streets through a vibrant medina. Music from a local band playing on classical sintirs and castanets fills the air with its traditional rhythms. The carriage might not be classically regal, yet the moment feels very much like a royal parade – her majesty, the queen of Middle Eastern cinema, has arrived.

00:00 / 00:00

When Yousra enters the riad belonging to artist and photographer Hassan Hajjaj for this anniversary cover shoot, the atmosphere drips with excitement. “We are in the presence of a legend,” says an awestruck assistant. The comment is no overstatement. A bona fide superstar, Yousra goes by one name. She’s starred in more than 80 movies, has received more than 60 awards, and this year was chosen to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which votes on the Oscars. She has helped define Arab cinema and shine a light on the industry, which overwise might have been overshadowed by the West.

VOGUE ARABIA COVER MARCH 2020 Yousra. Photography: Hassan Hajjaj

Yousra wears blanket, Hajjaj’s Own, hat, Andy Wahloo Super-Lux; shoes, Givenchy; sunglasses, Andy Wahloo Super-Lux X Poppy Lissiman. Photographed by Hassan Hajjaj for Vogue Arabia March 2020

“It is a great honor for me to be on the Oscars academy,” says Yousra in her typically husky tone. The actor, who was one of three Egyptian celebrities (along with producer Mohamed Hefzy and director Amr Salama) invited to join the academy, is humble about the role. “I believe the academy is one of the most prestigious in the world, and being part of it means so much to me.”

In Hajjaj’s studio, typically a kaleidoscope of color and buzzing with organized chaos, Yousra is laughing, her genuine warmth settling any nerves the team members might have. She’s flying to Los Angeles for the awards ceremony in the morning, so there’s a time crunch to be dealt with. Unsurprisingly, she whizzes through each look without complaint – she may be a legend, but she is no diva.

Yousra credits her husband, Khaled Selim, for her grounded attitude. “I respect the way he can handle my life as an actor and the way he is patient. He is proud of me when I take a new step and it is a successful one,” she reveals in a rare quiet moment. The actor is not usually comfortable talking about her relationship – she “doesn’t want to jinx it.” Not that she runs from the notion of it, of course. When asked what makes them such a successful duo, she replies, “Please can you say, ‘God bless your relationship’ instead of asking such a question,” adding, “Khaled and I have known each other since we were children. Without him, I don’t think I could manage to do all this.”

VOGUE ARABIA COVER MARCH 2020 Yousra. Photography: Hassan Hajjaj

Yousra wears dress, shoes Balenciaga; hat, Andy Wahloo Super-Lux; glasses, Andy Wahloo Super-Lux X Poppy Lissiman. Photographed by Hassan Hajjaj for Vogue Arabia March 2020

Yousra was 17 when she realized she wanted to become an actor – before that, she wanted to be a diplomat. Her onscreen history dates back to the late 70s, with her debut in Abdel Halim Nasr’s Castle in the Air, and her breakthrough roles in Ebtesama Wahida Takfy and Azkiaa Laken Aghbyaa. She went on to work with prominent Egyptian directors – most notably Youssef Chahine – and rapidly established her position as one of the highest paid stars in the industry, as well as one of the Arab world’s most powerful women.

“I just always wanted to be impressive”

“I just always wanted to be impressive,” says Yousra of her career and work ethic, which has contributed to her lauded status. “If people don’t appreciate your work and don’t see you as a legend, you will never be a legend. You have to understand that you are working for people and that you have to be working to their expectations.”

“Being a legend, you must have something. You are not free as you were when you were unknown. You are always under a special kind of pressure, and expectations of people toward you. But without those people, you will never be a legend,” she explains, adding for future stars, “Be humble as much as you can but at the same time, don’t expose too much of your private life.”

VOGUE ARABIA COVER MARCH 2020 Yousra. Photography: Hassan Hajjaj

Yousra wears coat, Dolce & Gabbana; jumper, Pucci; glasses, Andy Wahloo Super-Lux X Poppy Lissiman. Photographed by Hassan Hajjaj for Vogue Arabia March 2020

While she prefers to maintain a guarded privacy, her “sad childhood” is something she does offer some insight into. “I had a tough life when my father took me from my mother,” she says emotionally about the separation following a bitter divorce. “From their divorce I learned that things can still go on and you just need to handle your children with care, love, and honesty. Give them the chance to express themselves. I have to give it to my mother as she was my friend, my mom, and my backbone. She gave me all this. She made me who I am today.”

And who is that person? “A feminist” who believes in equality at work and in personal life. It’s this belief that has seen her purposefully tackle powerful characters and taboo topics. “I choose to play strong roles for women because we have a lot of stories of different women in our society who can be legends but we don’t use them enough. I’m trying to put these legends in the episodes I make,” she shares.

“We changed laws – you can change life through cinema.”

While she hasn’t pursued a political path, she has used her status to help push boundaries and even change laws. “When I made the rape episodes for the Ramadan series Fawk Mustawa Al Shobohat, everyone was against it, but in the end, everyone was clapping and it received the biggest viewership ever.” The show led to Egyptian laws toward rapists being changed. “Before, the law said that a rapist should go to prison for only one or two months. Now, he is very much punished. We changed laws – you can change life through cinema.”

VOGUE ARABIA COVER MARCH 2020 Yousra. Photography: Hassan Hajjaj

Yousra wears hat, Andy Wahloo Super-Lux; glasses, Andy Wahloo Super-Lux X Poppy Lissiman; blanket, photographer’s own. Photographed by Hassan Hajjaj for Vogue Arabia March 2020

Outside of the film industry, Yousra works tirelessly as a UN Goodwill ambassador for the Middle East and Africa to change the lives of those less fortunate. “Before being an ambassador, I also did humanitarian work, but being an ambassador offers much more responsibility,” she says. “I’m honored because being a Goodwill ambassador is trying to put the good in everything you do, not only in the mission you have.”

Her reach and engagement with her audience and fans is incredible, especially for someone who shuns social media – she simply will have no part in it. In fact, it’s the only time during the interview when her behavior shifts. “Before, we were stars without social media. Now I feel like anyone can be a star,” she says. “People listen to me because they know I’m not a hypocrite. I talk when I believe, and when I believe it comes from the heart.”

Not chasing likes has had little effect on her career – if anything, fans respect and idolize her more. When it comes to her own role models, she is quick to cite actors Faten Hamama and Nadia Lotfy, as well as her mother. “I had a lot to learn from these ladies, in all aspects of my life, and was lucky to have them,” she explains. “I’m proud that my mother was truly proud of me. She gave me the best love, care, and the best example in my life.”

00:00 / 00:00

Her father was somewhat more critical of her career, infamously slapping her across the face following her first onscreen kiss. “It’s something called الدنيا†علمتني†(what life taught me),” shares Yousra of the memory. “It didn’t make me ashamed at all that I did it. On the contrary, I’m proud of each and every scene I have made in the cinema.”

Despite her personal hardships, the superstar espouses positive thinking and mindfulness. Her ability to swat away bad vibes is admirable, especially in a job that comes with public scrutiny. “When you want to forget the bad or to dismiss someone from your life, just leave them to God,” she says calmly.

“Never take revenge into your own hands.” Yousra’s unflappable confidence comes to the fore throughout the cover shoot. She is completely comfortable in her own skin – and that skin is glowing and dewy, her smile infectious, her style that of a 1950s screen siren. She is the epitome of elegance and won’t bow down to pressures from the film industry. “I simply don’t care about aging,” she says with Oprah-style conviction, which makes everyone immediately want to jump in the air with applause. If she was on Instagram, she’d be the ultimate self-love guru. But for now, she’ll be taking over screens this coming Ramadan in the series Dahab Eira (Fake Gold). “I achieved in my 40 years of work whatever I wanted to achieve and whatever I wanted to dream of,” she says. “I love my age and I love my looks. I’m proud of who I am and how I look, and how I present things – Hamdoullilah.”

Originally published in the March 2020 issue of Vogue Arabia

Photography Hassan Hajjaj 
Style Katie Trotter & Lisa Jarvis
Creative producer Laura Prior  
Art accomplice Ebon Heath 
Second assistant Tariq Hajjaj
Local producer Marie Courtin 
Hair Sadek Lardjane 
Makeup Jo Frost
Photography assistants Hasnae El Quarga and Meriem Yin
Style assistant Alexandria Lefevre 
Runner Yazid Bezaz, Abdelali Boukrimi, Mohammed Ajib
Studio Riad Yima, Marrakech
With special thanks to Four Seasons Resort Marrakech

Read Next: 8 of Yousra’s Milestone Moments Illustrating Her Icon Status

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