The February 2022 issue of Vogue Arabia features cover star Rita Ora in conversation with Donatella Versace. The two icons reveal a mutual soft power and their desire to devote their platform to the service of the less fortunate.
Singer-songwriter, actor, philanthropist Rita Ora is a 21st century self-made superstar. In conversation with Italian designer Donatella Versace, the two icons divulge on their coming of age and living their passions with purpose. “Breaking into the industry was difficult,” she admits. “It took a lot of discipline and faith in myself to feel confident that this was the right path for me,” reflects Ora. “The best advice I can give young girls is to always believe in yourself and the vision you have for your art, and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t achieve your dreams,” says Ora who started out life as a refugee and went on to see her first record debut at #1 on the UK charts, certifying platinum.
Donatella Versace took the reins at the house of Versace following the shock death of her brother Gianni in 1997. Today, Versace is as much a favorite of stars—Angelina Jolie, Zendaya, Dua Lipa, and Lady Gaga, to name a few—as it was during the years of its founder. “There was a moment when being ‘Donatella Versace’ was not easy,” admits the designer. “I was suffering from a great loss. I was put in a position I knew I had to take, but I was not ready to do so because all I wanted was to be by myself and hide from the world—or when I was in a room full of men who dismissed my ideas even before I had the chance to explain myself. Those years were hard, but I have learned a lot as well. They made me stronger because there is one thing I will never do: give up.”
The February issue spotlights rising talent 22-year-old Tunisian actress Sonia Ammar who stars in the Scream 5 franchise. A model, who has posed for Miu Miu and Chanel, Ammar speaks of her breakout film role and creating lasting friendships with the star-studded cast. “They made us feel a part of the family,” she reflects. “David Arquette, for instance, is a really great painter. He did a painting class with the whole cast off-set. Courtney Cox had us over for a BBQ at her house. Neve Campbell invited us over on the beach where she was staying.” On set, their words encouraged her to “enjoy the process,” a notion she carried throughout filming. “I have so many things I want to do,” Ammar shares with Vogue Arabia. Currently graduating from Berkeley’s School of Music, Ammar hints at aspirations of becoming a film composer. “Society often tells you that you can only focus on one thing, especially as a woman. But I really believe there is a world where you can be multifaceted. Where you can have all those passions meet in the middle. That’s what I’m looking for.”
Tunisian actress Hend Sabri divulges on her evolving role as the divorced protagonist of Netflix’s Finding Ola. The lead actress is now the show’s executive producer. “My view is that there are not enough complex stories about women in our region. A story that is worth telling, with no lies and no taboos. We should open more spaces for women to be writers,” considers Sabri. “My view is that there are not enough women’s narratives. It’s really rare to find, even for me as an actress, to find a part that is complex, interesting, and also useful to talk about. We should open more spaces for women to narrate their own stories.”
The issue’s acting highlights continues East to spotlight Saudi actress Sumayah Rida, who divulges on her latest movie Rupture; the film won Best Saudi Film Award at the recent Red Sea International Film Festival. “In this film, I’ve had the chance to portray so much of what we, as women, go through,” she says. Considering her role her most important to date, she explains that one of its core themes looks into the concept of social pressure and how her character stands up for what she believes in. “Our aim as filmmakers is to produce a movie that pivots a transformation in the Saudi film scene,” she remarks. “I am really interested in presenting the true image of Muslim Saudi women, which is in my opinion still misrepresented to the world. We, as Saudi women, are very intelligent, sophisticated, and educated. Our voice is heard inside our homes and within our families, I want my roles to channel this reality. I wouldn’t really accept any roles that are misrepresenting my religion, country, or Saudi women in general. Talent alone is not enough. We all need to keep working, learning, and evolving.”