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Famous Egyptian Women Movie Legends You Need to Know

posted on: May 6, 2020

By: Tasnim Elnasharty/Arab America Contributing Writer

Egypt has produced some very talented actors and actresses in the last century, many of whom have gone on to star in comedies, dramas, horror movies and more. Among them, Egyptian women actresses who have specialized in film, television, or even theater. They make up some of the best Egyptian actresses the country has ever seen, so if you’re a native of Egypt or the Arab World and an aspiring actress, then these are some of the actresses who would be good role models.

Faten Hamama

Hamama was a film icon, known throughout the region, and was popular for two decades, between the 1950s and 1970s. She was considered as the major figure in Egypt’s golden age of cinema.

She started in a number of films and TV shows which made her a celebrated pioneer in the Egyptian film industry, both as a woman and an indisputable talent who maintained her poise throughout her career.

Born in 1931 in the Egyptian delta city of Mansoura, she went on to star in nearly 100 films and a number of popular TV shows. Due to her stardom, she was honored with the nickname “Lady of the Screen”.

She was also well known for her marriage with another famous Egyptian movie star, the internationally renowned Omar Sharif. They got married in 1955 and divorced in 1974. It was a second marriage for her as she had wed Ezzeldine Zulficar in 1947– 1954.  

TV star, Faten Hamama, passed away on January 17, 2015, at the age of 84.

Six Facts you may not know about Hamama

1- Hamama made her debut as an actress at the young age of seven, when she started in “Youm Saeed” (Happy Day) alongside singer Mohamed Abdel Wahab. She was named at that time, “Egypt’s own Shirley Temple”.

2- The top 100 Egyptian Films list compiled by the Supreme Council of culture in Cairo’s cinema committee contains eight movies of Hamama.

3- Faten Hamama’s artistic career reached its peak in the 1950s that is why she was chosen to participate in an American movie called “Cairo” in 1963.

4- The love story of Hamama and Sherif started when they worked together in Youssef Chahine’s movie “Sra’a fe El Wady” (Struggle in the Valley). He converted to Islam to marry her but they divorced 20 years later.

5- She was named “Star of the Century” by the Egyptian Writers and Critics organization at the Alexandria International Film Festival in 2001.

6- She strongly supported the 1952 Revolution. Between 1966 and 1971, Hamama lived outside of Egypt because she had refused to cooperate with the Egyptian Intelligence Agency. The agency was full of corruption at that time and its head Salah Nasr was forcing Egyptian actresses to cooperate with them. When she moved back, she often selected roles that delivered a pro-democracy message or criticized Egypt’s laws.


The Egyptian actress and singer Fatima Ahmed Kamel Shaker, better known by her stage name Shadia, played more than 100 roles in films, television series, and radio plays, and recorded dozen of singles during a career that spanned from 1947 to 1984. She was one of the most prominent stars in Egypt, and also enjoyed a broad fanbase in the rest of the Arab world.

The youngest daughter, Shadia, was born into a middle-class family in Egypt’s Sharqia Governorate, in the early Thirties. Film director Ahmed Badrakhan first discovered her while he was on the hunt for new faces. She followed in the footsteps of her sister Afaf Shaker, who also enjoyed a brief acting career, but it was arguably Shadia’s musical talent that led her to stardom.

Her patriotic song “Ya Habibti Ya Masr” (“Oh My Beloved Egypt”) became a quasi-national anthem, this is the song in Tahrir Square during Egypt’s Arab Spring, which ousted Egypt’s then-president, Hosni Mubarak.

Nadia Lutfi

Nadia Lutfi, one of the most popular Egyptian actresses during Egypt’s golden age of cinema. 

Born as Paula Mohamed Mostafa Shafiq, the young actress appropriated the name ‘Nadia Lutfi’ after Faten Hamama appeared in the box office success La Anam, as the character “Nadia Lotfy.”

She became widely successful during Egypt’s ‘golden age’ in cinema in the 60s, starring in prominent roles in films such as Saladdin, Lel Regal Fakat (Only for Men) alongside Soad Hosni and Abi foq al-Shagara (My Father On A Tree). 

Lutfi made close to 50 films in the first 11 years of her career and starred in movies based on the works of Nobel-prize winner Naguib Mahfouz. Her career wound down in the 1970s as Egypt’s Golden Age of films came to a close. The Cairo International Film Festival paid tribute to the star by using her photo for their official poster in 2014.

Nadia Lutfi died on Tuesday, February 4, following complications from an undisclosed illness. She was aged 83.

Suad Husni

Hosny was born on January 26, 1942. Her sweet smile, humble spirit and beautiful voice inspired audiences and artists alike. Husni’s striking beauty, free spirit, and unique talent enabled her to portray a wide variety of roles along with her fruitful acting career. Her fans dubbed her the “Egyptian Cinderella.” Hosny used her outstanding talent to call for gender equality in the TV series “Hekayat Hwa we Heyain” (1985) that achieved booming success.

She was not only a great performer but also a great fashion icon; lots of young girls during her time idolized Hosny on so many levels, including fashion. Hosny was raised in an artistic family. Her father was a calligrapher who adored music. Her older half-sister was a famous singer Nagat, while her older half-brother was a composer and an oud player in Umm Koulthoum’s ensemble.

Hosny was forced to withdraw from public life and film production as she suffered from a reputed ailment with her spine. This led to various complications, affecting her ability to move. In 2001, Hosny fell to death from her friend’s apartment in London, which brought her glamorous life to an end. “Before her death, she was preparing for a play which she discussed with producer and screenwriter Samir Khafaga. She had lost 15 kilograms and conducted some plastic and dental surgeries.

Mary Mounib

Mounib, whose real name was Marie Salim Habib Nasrallah, was born near Damascus to a Lebanese family on February 11,1905. She started working as a dancer at the Rawd Al Faraj amusement park. She then got involved in local productions, as a young girl.

It wasn’t until 1934 that she got her big break, when she joined the prominent Rihani Ensemble, founded by Egypt’s top comedian, Naguib el-Rihani (who has also been the subject of a Google Doodle in the past).

She was known for many things – her lengthy career as an actress, breaking into a make-dominated industry, her comedy, playing the hilarious mother-in-law, and those dangly earrings. That’s why, google paid homage to the star with a doodle on what have been her 24th birthday.

While she worked on many plays, her debut on the silver screen come soon after she was cast in a small role in Ibn El Shaab (Son of the people). She became known as the “Funniest mother in law in Egypt”, as well as a sharp tongued spinster. No matter what she turned hand to, in the almost 200 roles she played throughout her five decade career Mounib always commanded respect.

Mervat Ameen 

She is an Egyptian actress who received her degree from the English department at A’yn Shams University’s literature faculty. Amin acting career began in college where she joined an acting trouble and subsequently performed in Tawfiq Hakim’s play “Ya Tale’ Al Shagara”(Who’s climbing the tree). Following her graduation Amin became a professional performer and took part in the theatrical production “Matter Al Houb” (Love at the Airport) which saw her alongside performer A’bd Al Monim Madbouly.

Amin’s talents were noticed by fellow performer Ahmed Mazhar who nominated her for cinema roles beginning in 1968, Thus Amin performed opposite Mezhar in the 1968 film “Houb Al Mourahiqat” (Adolescent love). Thereafter, her acting career took off and she took part in several television and nighttime.

Amin is unique in her talents, she is cool minded and acts out her roles with passion. Some of her best known roles were in “Zawgat Ragol Mohim” (A VIP’s Wife) and “Oula Thanawwy” (Freshman year).



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