Faten Amal Harby is a social drama series that revolves around the sufferings of Faten (Nelly Karim), a divorced woman with two daughters.
The series highlights hot-button societal issues including partner violence, divorce, as well as the injustice and hardships Egyptian women face when opting for divorce, including child custody rights.
Faten is a strong woman who decides to challenge the Personal Status law, which she sees as an unfair law that deprives her of her rights.
Egypt Today chatted with superstar Nelly Karim about the role of Faten and how she views the impact of social drama on societal issues.
1-Who is Faten Amal Harby?
Faten is one of thousands of women that we can find in all Egyptian families. She is a woman who is going through very difficult circumstances, and she’s always fighting to survive for the sake of her daughters. Through the series we highlight the incidents that Faten is going through, the situations she faces, and how she deals with her life crises.
2-Can we consider Faten a strong character?
Of course, Faten is a very strong character and despite her moments of weakness, she is able to persevere in the face of the difficulties she is going through. Faten is not a fictional character, she is an Egyptian woman who is typically described as “the pillar of the house,” a metaphor that expresses the importance of Egyptian women and their ability to keep their families together in times of hardship. Faten is that woman who remains strong and steadfast to face the challenges life throws at her.
3-Who was your inspiration while getting into character?
There is no specific inspiration but any artist throughout his or her life meets different and varied personalities, and hears many realistic stories so when they perform a certain character they start to use all these experiences and data stored in their mind. Although there is no specific character in my life that totally inspired me to play Faten, I have met some women that are similar to her, who have suffered the same things or have similar circumstances. I hope that the messages we send through Faten’s character are well received especially after the great feedback to the series till now.
4-Do you worry about audience reaction to your character choice when taking on a new role?
No, I do not think about the audience’s reaction toward any work I present, I only exert the maximum effort to perform the role with full credibility. As for whether the work will succeed or not, I do not think about this issue during the preparation stage at all, I only concentrate on embodying my role.
5-Most of your works tackle vital societal problems, is that your mission?
Frankly speaking, discussing such issues depends on a number of factors, including the production company, the director and the scriptwriter. It is true that most of my works tackled societal problems but that was not really intentional. At the end of the day I am an actress who presents multiple roles, some of which have important social aspects and different dimensions, but if you are asking about this series, the idea was the brainchild of the director Mando Al-Adl, and he discussed it with the great writer Ibrahim Eissa.
6-How do you feel the series can empower women?
The series supports women, and discusses major defects in the family law pertaining to divorce and child custody that hundreds of women are suffering from in the family courts nowadays. If we take a look at the laws that were made more than 50 years ago, we will find significant weak points in them that negatively affect women rights. Despite the judges’ sympathy, they are at the end governed by this law. The law needs to be changed, especially in light of the government’s steps to support women, and President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s great efforts to empower Egyptian women. This is crystal clear from the number of female ministers and judges we have now, that’s why the series tried to support women and shed light on major challenges that many divorced women like Faten suffer from.
7-Films like Oreedu Halan (I Need a Solution) have been known to prompt the government to change legislation, do you think this series has the power to set changes to the law in motion?
I certainly hope that this happens and the series contributes to making a radical change in the law in question. The series highlighted many problems that thousands of women currently suffer from in Egypt.
8-How would you describe this latest cooperation with veteran producer Gamal El Adl?
As usual the cooperation with veteran producer Gamal El Adl is always fruitful. Some may view the producer as a rich guy who is investing his money in cinema or drama only to maximize his profits, on the contrary the producer is a person who has an artistic vision to choose a professional cast who must work together in full harmony. Gamal El Adl is one of these producers who has an artistic sense and the ability to make high-quality series and movies.
9-Tell us about your first-time cooperation with Sherif Salama
Sherif presented a totally different role that took viewers by surprise. He is a talented actor who provided a distinguished performance of Seif El-Dandarawy’s character which was no easy feat. Audiences admired his performance, especially since he’s never played anything like it. Behind the scenes with Sherif were really great as well.