interview | may elghety

dress. Johannes Warnke
shoes. Christian Louboutin
necklace. Swarovski

May ElGhety is truly enigmatic. The 25-year-old Egyptian actress and certified psychologist is making waves this year with the Egyptian TV series Massar Egbari, and soon-to-be-released Due Dating, marking the release of her first international film. With her boundless imagination and unwavering determination, May has carved a unique path in the world of acting. Schön! chats with the actress who is now ready to stand on her own two feet and not to be compared to her famous family members, discussing everything from her latest TV series to Ramadan celebrations and why she decided to study psychology. 

We just finished the month of Ramadan, and you could be seen as a part of one of the most-watched shows during the month. How did it feel being in the Ramadan Marathon in Massar Egbari?

I was quite thrilled. It’s been a couple of years since I’ve been in the Ramadan marathon. My last Ramadan show was Sultanet Al Moez in 2020, so it was exciting to be offered Massar Egbari especially now with everyone’s exciting reactions and positive responses to the show.

While many have watched the show during Ramadan, how have you yourself been celebrating?

I’ve been spending a lot of time with my family and friends, I’ve been caught up with work till the first half of Ramadan, so it’s been so nice to just sit back and relax with family and friends and indulge in too much food for Iftar and Sohour.

full look. Dolce & Gabbana
dress. Rabanne
hat + gloves. Atsuko Kudo
earrings. Swarovski

Is there something special you are focusing on this year?

I’m trying to focus on paving the way for my career the way I would like it to unravel. I’m also focusing on nourishing my personal relationships and my own wellbeing. 

What inspired you to get into acting?

Well, cinema is magic. The world of film is so rich and vibrant and to a child with big feelings and emotions it was a great escape from the real world. Kids would have imaginary friends; I would imagine being part of the narratives I watched. Films and TV series were my best friends growing up. Film and television are a great cathartic outlet and offer a space for those who need to address their feelings, develop insight, and reflect on their lives. How can anyone not be drawn to this?

You also hold a degree in psychology and worked as a therapist. How was it to pause your acting career and pursue a degree in psychology?

I’ve been acting since I was 7 years old and because all I’ve known in my entire life was cinema and the arts, I wanted to prove to myself that I can still learn new skills in a different field. I also wanted to find new and more meaningful ways of contributing to society or others and as much as the arts is an incredible form to do so, I wanted to offer something more personal and tangible to my community. If anything was scary it was deciding to take the time off to pursue my master’s degree in psychology and coping with all the worries and fears that I was missing out or might start getting forgotten in the industry, despite the fact that I was still shooting projects in parallel such as Awlad Abed and Sugar Daddy.

Has your studies in psychology helped with your acting roles? 

Certainly, I often refer to books on theories of personality and traits when working on any character. Most recently, I was working on a film Kamla that’s currently out on Netflix, where my character “Asmaa” suffered from major depression due to severe childhood trauma where she was subjected to FGM. I did a lot of studying to portray every detail as genuinely as possible, from her walk style to her pace whilst talking, to her anxiety tick and self-harm tendencies. It was a lot of work, and it was emotionally draining but I was glad that there was a conversation that started around this topic after the film’s release and a lot of people empathized with Asmaa’s story especially that it was inspired by true events and a real life person.

Having studied in London, did that help you switch to working on an international film such as Due Dating?

Yes absolutely, I come from a completely different culture. I like to think I’m well-traveled but certainly, the exposure to English culture during the time of my studies facilitated my integration with co-workers and colleagues which made me end up working on the project. I was also still studying when I auditioned for Kizazi which was a unique experience on its own too, getting to work with non-Egyptian producers and vocal coaches. Then later to attend the special screening of the series at the BAFTA’s and meet the entire incredible team behind it, I think this all really facilitated my integration in a non-Egyptian work environment and if it weren’t for my travel abroad for my studies I wouldn’t have been able to do.

It was quite fun with Due Dating, I loved working with everyone. It was my first on-screen acting role spoken in English. I had just prior recorded the voiceover for Disney+’s Kizazi Moto: Generation Fire, which was also in English, but it was a nice transition to acting on-screen in a language different than Arabic. Everyone was super supportive and collaborative, and I can’t wait for the film to come out this summer.

In 2018, you were appointed as the goodwill ambassador for Greenish Very Nile, where you actively participate in Nile cleanup campaigns that raises awareness about sustainability and climate concerns. How do you activate yourself with the Nile cleanup campaign? What is important being a goodwill ambassador for the project? What do you wish people would focus more on?

My journey with environmental activism started in 2018 alongside Greenish. I have advocated with their organization and independently throughout the years for different causes including water scarcity, management of waste, plastic pollution, climate change, and veganism. When “Very Nile”, an initiative started by Bassita a social enterprise and Greenish started the Nile clean-up campaigns, I was more than happy to advocate for this incredible project as Greenish’s goodwill ambassador and go on ground and volunteer. It’s been a few years, but the awareness brought on by the initiative still has a lasting impact and I am incredibly proud I shed some light on it. I wish people would continue to support environmental initiatives and focus on implementing sustainable habits in their day-to-day lives to help save and support our planet.

dress. Versace
shoes. Giuseppe Zanotti
earrings. Swarovski

Another passion of yours is working with the awareness of mental health. What are your hopes for working more with the awareness of Mental Health, and is there anything special area of mental health you wish to focus on?

I think destigmatization will continue to be key. Additionally, psychoeducation is crucial. I come across people struggling a lot but they’re not sure why and I believe if there was a push for educational campaigns to help people understand signs of a deteriorating mental wellbeing or signs and symptoms of specific mental disorders it would encourage people to seek support sooner rather than later.

What do you do for your own mental health? And how do you spend your free time off work?

I tend to overwork myself often, so I’ve taught myself to be more self-aware of my burnout signs. The minute I’m experiencing 2 or more signs I stop everything I am doing, take time to self-care, rest and recover. I do my own personal therapy, surround myself with a great support system and travel.

During my free time, I watch films and television, read books and academic journals, try to make music and write stories. I travel to the countryside, and I do pottery when I can as it is very therapeutic to me. I love spending time with friends and loved ones, I especially love cooking for them and have been thinking about holding regular dinner parties to exercise my culinary skills.

Being a person who has been brave to try new things, and work with both environmental issues and mental health. What would your advice be for someone dreaming about another career? Or to start in a competitive industry such as the film industry? 

Be persistent, be realistic and live more. The film industry requires people to have thicker skin, it’s just like any other field, you will be faced with rejections, missed opportunities, disappointments and even bullies at times but you still need to persevere if you really believe in yourself. We should also be realistic about what we can offer and provide as artists and be honest to our true capabilities. I know people who would often try to fit into a mould that’s unfamiliar to them and it really dims down their talent, we all have different sets of skills that’s why one actor is different than another so we should highlight what we do best, particularly in the beginning of one’s career. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t expand this set and continue learning, that’s why we should seek to live more experiences and do more things in our personal lives. Actors draw from personal experiences. Therefore, how can we expect to portray lives or people we don’t relate to? so live more and live big.

full look. Johannes Warnke
dress. Versace
shoes. Giuseppe Zanotti
earrings. Swarovski

photography. Emalea Jones
fashion. Hussy ElCeliemy + Sol Ruiz
talent. May ElGhety
hair. Valentina Ingrosso
make up. Jack Oliver
fashion assistant. Alex Oquendo
lighting assistant. Elliott
words. Yasmine Nyström Mubarak


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