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Dalia Shawky on Coco Chanel & Finding the Romance in Life

ELLE sat down with the Egyptian actress for a deeper dive

Fulfilling her passion, from leading roles at the AUC Theatre to the silver screens alongside Egyptian icons, Dalia Shawky sat down with ELLE for a 1-on-1.

WHERE DID DALIA SHAWKY BEGIN?

If we were to pin a point in time in which Shawky’s journey with theater began, we would have to go back to her very first play. Shawky begins, “If I were to tell the story in a romantic manner, I think the first chapter of the book would be a play I did when I was young, Cinderella. I was the step-mother.” She smiles at the memory, “My best friends to this day are the people who played Cinderella and the stepdaughters. I feel like this could be the first page.” 

As the actress’ dream continued to grow with her, she later found herself pursuing acting in her college years. 

“The first big play I was in was The Game of Love and Chance. It was on the main stage, Malak Gabr at the American University in Cairo, directed by the late Mahmoud El Lozy.” The actress goes on to tell us of the special place that theater holds in her heart, and how unique her experience with the late director was. “It was the first time, it was my first year in college, and it was the first milestone in a way.” 

COCO CHANEL & ACTING ALONGSIDE SHERIHAN

Shawky then went on to star in many big roles in her career, among which are Ka’eno Embareh, Finding Ola, and Safah El Giza. The one she spent the most time telling us about, though, was her first play on the big stage alongside Egyptian icon Sherihan. “When I signed the contract for a play, Coco Chanel, with Sherihan, that was a dream I never thought would come true. It was such a moment between me and God. That was such a precious moment to me.”

“Working with Sherihan was everything. That’s truly the only way I could describe it.” Shawky tells us, “Generally I’m not someone who’s ever starstruck, but Sherihan was something else to me. My family always tells me how affected I was by her during my childhood. I had her pictures up in my room.” 

“The first time I met her I cried. I froze. I couldn’t move. I just stood there with my hands on my mouth, crying.” The actress then goes on to tell us how it was actually Sherihan who came over to her and hugged her, telling her she loved her. “I still get emotional thinking about it.” Shawky recalls in admiration, “And I kept repeating to her ‘You don’t understand, you don’t understand, you don’t understand.’” 

“To witness an icon on stage, working, doing the thing you love most, theater, is an insane experience. The way she continued being the same as she was off stage, she’s a legend, Sherihan is the legend.” 

ON THE TV SCREEN 

It’s not often an actor embodies a role so well that the audience still recognizes them for it 7 years later, but that’s exactly the case with Shawky’s first TV experience. “My first TV show was around the same time as the play, it was Ka’eno Embareh. To this day people stop me in the street and call me by the name of that character, Nahed Rostom. It’s been years, it’s been 7 years.” 

The show, starring Rania Youssef, Ahmed Wafik, Mohamed Al-Sharnouby, Huda El Mufti, Ahmed Khalil, Mayan El Sayed, and many more actors adored by the audience was a great success. It tells the story of a family that lives through a tragedy for years after losing their son, Ali, after he was kidnapped on the beach as a boy. Years later, Ali reappears, raising questions, the biggest of which: Is it actually him? 

SAFAH EL GIZA 

Safah El Giza was a really big turning point for me in my career.” Shawky shares, “The process of preparing for that show is one I don’t think I’ll ever forget. We had a very big responsibility with Safah El Giza because it’s inspired by true events.” 

“This was a project that had never been done before, nothing like it had ever been done.” The actress states, “And there was truly a lot of respect on set. All of the cast, all of the crew, everyone was giving 200%.” 

Starring Ahmed Fahmy, Rakeen Saad, Bassem Samra, along many more beloved actors, the series went on to become a hit, and broke records. 

ON LIFE & FINDING THE ROMANCE IN IT

“I feel like I’m a sponge, and I’m always ready to absorb what life has to give.” Shawky touches on the way she goes through life, explaining that she often finds love to be the leading force. 

“I believe you should go through life with an open heart.” She shares, “Still, though, as much as I believe in giving love..” she was inspired by Hend Sabri’s saying that “.. not everyone deserves your heart.”

For the rest of our sit down with Dalia Shawky, head to our YouTube channel. 

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