The United Kingdom’s stance on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality has always been heard loud and clear. This, of course, happened due to the initial wave of the Suffrage Movement since the Victorian Era. Nowadays, women’s powerful voices are heard worldwide in various industries. Whether in film, arts, business, infrastructure, legal or transportation. Iconic personalities such as Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Margaret “Maggie” Thatcher, Emma Watson, Amal Clooney, Malala Yousafzai and more are on the tangent in changing lives for everyone.
One of these rising names in the film industry is Naila Mansour, a Belgian-Egyptian actress and producer with her own production company NINAA Ltd. Her career began after attending a festival in Brussels as a volunteer. Little did she know, that was when the fascination grew into a passion. “ I wanted to see all those films, and I met all my best friends in the industry there, a Steadicam Operator who’s 20 years older than me, James Gunn – before he was known as THE James Gunn and one of my best friends who had already made three short films.
From then on, she started to be more present in the film industry. One fateful day at the Cannes Film Festival led her to meet an agent of a film director who asked the aspiring film enthusiast if she was an actor; Naila answered, “ I’ve never done anything before. But I’m here too, and she said, Could you come tomorrow? We’re filming the scene. We were looking for someone who could speak Arabic.
In that scene, she played a journalist, and after that film, doors started to open for her in short films. Her interest in the production aspect of short film genres “ Short films became my gateway into how filming works. It tremendously helps because I am also surrounded by people who are starting out. I wouldn’t say it’s my only choice to do short films only. Of course, I would like to get on projects that are feature-length in the future.”
BREAKING INTO THE INDUSTRY
Naila’s foray into the pursuit of her dreams, like the rest of us, has its ups and downs. Until now, despite the wave bought about by the #Metoo Movement. Naila admits that she still finds it difficult and baffling that unwanted attention still happens in the open.
“It’s terrifying that these things are still happening. As a woman navigating this patriarchal system, they know how badly these people want to be part of this world and it is no easy feat to be through those doors. You need to be strong and able to know that there are plenty of ways to get there despite those offers.”
INSPIRATIONAL FEMALE FILM POWERHOUSES, NINAA LTD AND CELEBRATING WOMEN EVERY DAY
Kathryn Bigelow, Maria Schrader, and Greta Gerwig are three of the many film house icons that Naila looks up to. With their differing and provocative styles, it is no wonder she looks up to them as one of the top film directors of all time. “ Their work has value. In this industry, it’s always been men who have always been on top of the food chain compared to women who direct and make a name for themselves.”
This turns the conversation into her groundbreaking progress of starting NINAA LTD, a production company that lives by its company motto. “ No is not an answer for us. So much talent unexploited. We want to make things happen.”
Aside from that, Naila proves her acting chops in award-winning director David Tomaszewki’s latest short film NEIT – Hands on the steering wheel of a supercar, an intrepid mother juggles her life as a secret agent and family life while being chased by the police in deserted London.
NEIT’s take on motherhood resonates with Naila’s real-life role as a mother. This leads to the question of how she celebrates women in her life every day.” How do I celebrate them? Thank them simply,for being there during the good times and bad.”
Naila is currently voicing the British Museum’s Eternal Telephone audio drama project. Eternal Telephone is part of the Four Lives Display in the Egyptian sculpture gallery at the museum. Naila voices Piabrm as well as the prominent telephone voice. The project is available to listen to online as well as in person when visiting the gallery at the museum. Other actors involved in the project include Waleed Elgadi (A Hologram for the King), Sammy Broly (Gangs of London, Hanna), and Jumaan Zizzari (Killing Eve).
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Written by: Cyan Leigh Dacasin | Photos: Kirk Newmann | Art Direction: Myrrh Fae Fernan