May Elghety’s World

"I want my future daughter to see on TV that a North African girl with an Arabic name who looks like her can make her own destiny."

May Elghety’s World
Menna Shanab

Born into a family of celebrated writers and TV presenters, May ElGhety is no stranger to the power of words and images. Yet, the young actress has ventured beyond her familial legacy to carve out a path of her own— from the historic stages of Cairo’s Opera House to the cutting-edge animation studios of Disney. 

As she stands on the cusp of her international debut with the British film ‘Due Dating,’ May graciously invites us into her world.

You started your acting career at a young age. Can you share the story of your first break in the industry?

I’ve had roles here and there as a child actor in some of my father’s projects including “Awasef Al Nessaa” and “Bent Men El Zaman Da,” but my true break was in the musical “Badr El Bedour” which I auditioned for in the Cairo Opera House when I was 12 years old. I owe a lot to this play; the experience taught me so much and helped me get my big screen breaks in the TV series “Al Kaserat” and the second sequel to the film “Al Gazeera”

 From social issues in “Al-Kaserat” to sci-fi in “Kizazi Moto,” you’ve played a variety of roles. How do you go about selecting your roles?

I think I have been incredibly lucky to be able to highlight major social issues through my career such as you mentioned “Al Kaserat” and, up until recently, “Mama” and “Kamla”. These were very heavy projects to make, so other times when you get the opportunity to do something fun, like an animation with Disney, you simply can’t say no. Yet, I remember telling my friends right after “Kizazi Moto” was released that this is exactly what I want my kids to watch in the future. I want my future daughter to see on TV that a North African girl with an Arabic name who looks like her can make her own destiny.

Can you share some career milestones that you are particularly proud of?

I am so grateful; I feel so blessed and lucky because I think I have made so many milestones. From being in the Cannes Film Festival for “Clash” in 2016, to telling the story of “Nada” and meeting her in person; Balancing getting a Master’s degree in London whilst shooting “Awlad Abed” in Egypt; Playing a Disney character, which is a childhood dream come true, then watching it on the screen in the BAFTA headquarters; tapping into the international market is a massive step. For all of this, I am eternally grateful.

How important is it for you to represent African and Egyptian culture on international platforms like Disney for “Kizazi Moto”?

It’s incredibly important. I grew up watching women in films and television who didn’t look anything like me and it always made me feel like I lacked something or that someone like me will never have anything interesting happen to them to be represented in a film. I never want a girl with my background to feel like that, so I hope more projects like Kizazi keep getting made and produced.

You’ve acted in roles that tackle social issues like child marriages. How important is it for you to use your platform to shed light on such topics?

My sense of purpose as an artist depends on it to be honest. It’s really important to me.

What are your future goals, both in Egyptian cinema and on the international stage?

I’m reading a few projects now in Egypt and I’ve decided that I want to take larger roles in the filmmaking process, so I’m currently developing my first feature film as a screenwriter alongside director Abdelaziz El Naggar and I’m very excited. For the international stage I’m currently working on a project with Al Jazeera alongside Charles Dance. There are a few projects in the works as well, with me being the actor and co-writer. I can’t disclose much information on them at the moment, but I’m very excited for what this journey brings.

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