You Shine More When You Find And Help New Talents

21 September 2022

Superstar Yousra offers her personal reflections on women in the cinema industry - in the past, present, and future. 


Egyptian women have always inspired me, especially artists of the twenties, for they were true stars that lit up our world with their art, and also with their perseverance. 

Women were really fighters in such early times, starting with Aziza Amir, who starred and produced in the first Egyptian feature film LAILA in 1927, Bahiga Hafez, and Fatma Roshdy in the 30s and 40s who carved a place for themselves as actresses, producers, and screenwriters in the Egyptian film industry and introduced women’s issues positively, not to mention singers Om Kolthom, Layla Morad and many more. They took the film industry very seriously, at a time when society did not accept acting as a serious profession, when singing and performing were social taboos that disgraced renowned families. This inspired me a lot to believe in art and in myself no matter what and to fight hard for such belief and give it your all, for it is your life purpose. 

However, it was more recent legends like Faten Hamama and Soad Hosny who inspired me to become an actress.



Working in the film industry is quite a risk. As an actress, you are not sure of a stable presence or income for that matter. That’s why it was a huge achievement to be self-established. 


The more talents, the merrier 

You can’t create anything in films and TV, or indeed other art forms, without having real talent around you. You shine more when you find and help new talents. And the industry shines too because those new talents result in better works and we all benefit. I always loved helping rising artists because without the help I got from many people, I would not be where I am now. And that’s how I pay back. I feel more love and passion in my work when I do that, especially if one’s creative instincts synchronize with the right talented artists, be they actors, writers or directors. Then you feel a real sense of happiness and achievement.


A new golden age 

I believe it's the beginning of a golden age. Especially now that Saudi Arabia has started to open up. Even with all the history of Arab Cinema, there are still so many more stories to tell and much creativity to tap into. I believe we are just starting another era especially with the huge exposure of digital content worldwide and the enormous demand for such content. This means we need more stories, more creative input, stronger visions, and, yes, even more space for new talents.



Yousra is Egypt’s most renowned multi-faceted celebrity, a true icon. She has been gracing the silver screen for more than 40 years now, with some 140 titles, including films, Tv series, plays, and radio series to her name. Since the 1970s, Yousra has starred in some of the most important films in the history of Egyptian cinema, was named one of the World’s 100 Most Powerful Arab Women by Arabian Business magazine for three years, and was selected as a member of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (The Oscars®) in recognition of her rich cinematic history. 

Yousra played significant roles in several films and appeared in 4 of Youssef Chahine’s films:  AN EGYPTIAN STORY (1982), ALEXANDRIA: AGAIN AND FOREVER (1990), THE EMIGRANT (1994), and ALEXANDRIA... NEW YORK (2004). Famously, she formed a duo with the legendary superstar Adel Emam in 17 films that enjoyed sweeping box-office success, including THE ADVOCATE (1983), TERRORISM AND KABAB (1992), ALMANSI (1993), BIRDS OF DARKNESS (1995), and THE YACOUBIAN BUILDING (2006). Variety magazine characterized Yousra's performance in YACOUBIAN as "effortlessly evoking old romantic memories when she sings La Vie en Rose.”


She also starred alongside renowned international Egyptian actor Omar El-Sharif and superstar Amr Diab in LAUGHTER, GAMES, SERIOUSNESS AND LOVE (1993).

Among the films in which she starred, 4 were chosen among the list of top 100 Films in the history of Egyptian Cinema by the Cairo International Film Festival in 1996.

Moreover, 3 of her films were added to the list of 100 Best Arab Films by the Dubai international film festival in 2013. While 2 other films were named one of the 100 Most Significant Women Films in 2021 by the Aswan International Women Film Festival.

Yousra has headed the juries of the Carthage Film Festival (1994) and the Doha Tribeca Film Festival (2010), and the Cairo International Film Festival (2014), and was a jury member at Mostra de València and the Marrakech International Film Festival (2014).

Since 2002, Yousra’s TV series was always “a must see'' during the highest TV season in Ramadan. Many of her series had an impact on social causes such as A PUBLIC OPINION CASE (2007) which helped to change the public mindset regarding rape victims.

Throughout her artistic career, Yousra has been the recipient of more than 80 local, regional and international awards, most prominently at Cannes Film Festival and Venice Film Festival, Cairo International Film Festival (CIFF), Carthage Film Festival, Beirut International Film Festival, in addition to the Institut du Monde Arabe (Arab World Institute) in Paris, along with many certificates of appreciation and honours. In 2015, she was awarded the Achievement in Cinema Award at the Arab Women of the Year ceremony in London. 

She is currently a goodwill ambassador for several United Nations institutions, including the United Nations Development Programme, UNAIDS, and the joint United Nations program on HIV/AIDS. She has participated in the World Economic Forum’s sessions in Switzerland, Jordan, and Egypt, and she joined the board of trustees Kemet Boutros Ghali Foundation for Peace and Knowledge (KBG), the International Advisory Board of the El Gouna Film Festival, and was the honorary president of the CIFF in 2017.