“If you want to have a career in cinema in the Middle East you have to have VERY thick skin.”

That’s the one tip that Hend Sabry will share if any. And you better believe she knows what she’s talking about. For no matter what you may have read about one of the Middle East’s most sought-after actresses with a remarkably impressive collection of awards and accolades throughout her career, most notably becoming the first Arab woman to win the prestigious Italian  Starlight Cinema Award—a series of many firsts under her belt— it’s her genuine commitment to using her serious star power and voice to make a real difference and become a catalyst for change in the world that makes her the trailblazer she is today.

Career Highs

With an illustrious portfolio of roles that spans over three decades, the Tunisian-Egyptian actress actually made her acting debut at the tender age of fourteen and it didn’t go unnoticed. Looking back, we wanted to know what she considers as the highlight of her career. “If i had to choose one, it would be my very first award at The Carthage Film Festival for my first movie “Silence of Palaces” in 1994. When you’re fourteen and you’re not a professional actor and you get a Best Actress Award, there is nothing similar to this— after that I was more trained I was more ready— because I really wasn’t expecting this award it still is the highlight of my career.”

And although it may look like she has it all, her path to success hasn’t always been easy while challenges remain. “The Arab Cinema landscape has changed many times. When I first arrived here it was very closed, Egyptian cinema was not open to other actors, or to actors from other places, I think the melting pot that happened right after myself and other actors from the region came, changed the landscape, we became much more Pan-Arab, much more open towards one another. However, we still have a lot of issues when it comes to writing for films for example; it has always been a rare thing to find good scripts, and this has not changed much, sure production value is much better and bigger, but we still have a lot of problems in writing.”

Fashion Follows

For someone who is in the public eye and followed by an astonishing 3.4 million people on Instagram you would be surprised to know that Hend Sabry does not extend the same “follow back” courtesy to fashion. “My relationship with fashion is intermittent, I am not a fashionista, I am not a trend-follower but I like to be aware of what’s happening. I like to see the trends, I acknowledge them, but I don’t necessarily follow them, plus, I have classics in my wardrobe that have been with me for 20 years, I still wear the same shirts, tops, from 15 years ago so I guess my relationship with fashion is as such.”

And when it comes to her favorite Arab designers? “I like Azzi & Osta a lot actually and I like BOUGUESSA, I think their cuts are amazing, I like how modern and graphic they are- not too oriental. I like how we now have- with all the big names- such as Elie Saab and Zuhair Murad of course- young creators and designers who are actually very keen on bringing something to the table of Arab Fashion.”

A Passionate Advocate

Despite her commitment to her career, Hend Sabry is as equally-passionate in her advocacy work as she is in the many female empowering roles that she has played. “I have been the Ambassador for the World Food Programme (WFP) which is an agency of the United Nations for 13 years now, trying to raise awareness about hunger in the region, primarily in the Middle East and North Africa. It’s been quite hectic for us at WFP because we have faced a lot of things since I got appointed as an Ambassador; we’ve faced wars, we’ve faced displacement, refugee crises, and most recently since the earthquakes in Syria and Turkey; there are a lot more people unfortunately who need our help. We still have 1 billion hungry people in the world, which means they go to bed at night, when and if they have a bed, with not enough food. This shouldn’t be the case, we are in 2023 and yet the number of hungry people is increasing.”

Which begs the question,what if anything can people do to help? “Well, the first step would be for people to acknowledge the fact that we still have a hunger issue and unfortunately it’s going to only get worse due to climate change, the displacement of people, wars and more. The second step is to download an Application developed by the WFP called Share the Meal, in which people can share a meal, or ten meals or even a thousand meals with people who really need it all over the world.”

In an ideal world it would be Hend Sabry- a naturally born leader that would rule. She laughs at the idea. But we really want to know, what would she implement first if she were in power? “Well, if I’m ever put in this situation I know that I would be quite strict, because this is how I am, I love rules, so the first thing I would implement is no more use of plastic.”

She has our vote. Hend Sabry for President.