I had a Zoom interview scheduled with Salma Abu Deif, but at the last moment, I found out that she was on a boat in the middle of the sea, with virtually no access to Wi-Fi or cellular data. In the age of COVID-19, when Zoom calls have become the norm, it was difficult to go back to a regular call, but I did, because it was the only way to reach her.
She picked up almost immediately, and I could her people in the background, possibly in the midst of sun-drenched revelry. Yet as soon as she heard my voice, she asked them all to leave and focused on our chat.
Abu Deif is one of the Arab world’s rising stars, a smoldering 27-year-old Egyptian beauty who made her screen debut in the 2017 series “Halawet El Donia.” “The role of Alia was my first role,” she said, “it was my good luck charm.”
Prior to her budding career as an actress, Abu Deif was a successful model, and she explained that if the transition from model to actress was a welcome one, it wasn’t something that she had necessarily planned. During her modeling days, film directors started noticing her, and were soon proposing film roles. “It came along after modeling,” she said. “I wanted to be an actress deep inside, but I never thought about it. Acting chose me.”
Growing up, Abu Deif was a movie buff, with a particular affinity for Hollywood masterpieces such as “The Godfather,” “The Shawshank Redemption,” and “Pulp Fiction.” And she’s also a big fan of Egyptian cinema, with a true reverence for such Egyptian film icons as Faten Hamama, Yehia El-Fakharany, Ahmed Mazhar and Ahmed Ramzy.
In terms of fashion, Abu Deif says that her clothing choices often reflect her changing moods. “If I’m lazy, I wear comfortable clothes,” she says, “and on the red carpet I choose something sleek and simple.” She’s always been supportive of MENA-based fashion designers, including the likes of Okhtein, Mrs. Keepa and Maison Yeya. She also appreciates Egyptian designer Azza Fahmy’s fabled jewelry. For many red carpet choices, she often relies on her stylist Yasmine Eissa, who styled Abu Deif for FTA’s editorial shoot.. “I’m having so much fun with her. We’ve been working together for two years. I trust her very much and can count on her, even during difficult red carpet moments.
When asked about her dream role, Abu Deif says that she would love to star in a psychological film, one that would allow her to explore mental health. She also hopes to eventually star in a musical. In the near future, she has a new, as-yet-untitled film that’s part comedy and part martial arts fantasy, scheduled to be released in the GCC sometime around Eid al-Adha in July. “Hamdellah, I find myself to be very lucky,” Abu Deif said, when explaining the pluses of an acting career. “In my job you have to work on yourself every day, expand, learn new languages an