Lebanese Actress Nour On Her Movie Career, Motherhood And The Importance Of Staying True To Yourself

Nour For Harpers Bazaar Arabia
Mohamed Seif

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"People must accept you exactly the way you are in order for you to be happy."

Nour changed her name from Marian when she arrived in Cairo to embark on her movie career, but despite these dual personas - one for those closest to her, and the other for the big screen - the Lebanese actress stresses to BAZAAR the importance of remaining true to yourself.

Harper's BAZAAR Arabia: Nour isn’t your given name, where did it come from?
Nour: My actual name is Marian. I am Lebanese, but when I came to Egypt to start my career they asked me to change Marian to another Arabic name that would be easier to pronounce. There were no other actresses called Nour at the time, so I suggested it and everyone thought it was great.

HBA: Who is Nour?
Nour: Do you really want to know who Nour is, or do you want to know who Marian is?
HBA: You have two personas then? 
Nour: Yes, because I wanted to build a successful career and being Nour gave me the opportunity to do exactly that. All of my family and close friends know me as Marian and that’s what they call me, though to be honest, the two have merged together over time. I like having two names, to have a change. At first Nour didn’t feel like it belonged to me, but now it personifies my successful career.
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HBA: Is it possible to switch off from your career and from Nour?
Nour: When I am shooting, I get back to my family and am utterly exhausted. My children, who are nine and seven years old, understand my work better now and so are more empathetic to how I am feeling and what I have to do. Originally when fans came up to me and tried to take pictures, my son felt like his privacy had been taken away from him because it put me in a position where I couldn’t be as free as I wanted to be. But now, when I take them out to the movies, they see their mother and what she does for work, and they are happy and proud. I try to fulfil all their needs when I’m not working.
HBA: How do your children feel when they see you on screen?
Nour: Once I took them to see one of my films and in one of the scenes my co-star was pulling and pushing me in quite an aggressive manner and it made them both cry. They knew it was acting, but they still couldn’t help but be upset that someone appeared to be hurting their mummy.
HBA: Can women have it all?
Nour: It’s about phases. During one phase we will be better at work, and during another, better at home. We are human beings, not robots. So no, women can’t always fulfil every single thing 100 per cent, but as long as they are trying to, that’s what is important.
HBA:How did it feel when you landed your first major role?
Nour: I didn’t actually recognise the importance of it, or the fact I was actually going to be on the big screen. I didn’t think about what was going to happen to me after that film was released. And when the premiere came around, my heart was thumping and I started to doubt myself, to think I could have, and should have, done it much better. I criticised myself like you wouldn’t believe. It wasn’t easy at all, but the self-criticism is crucial. Acting is like sport - the more you do it, the better you get at it. Life experiences also play a huge part in that development. The things I have been through in my personal life have helped to shape me as an actress. When I became a mother my emotions came through in a different way and this was something I was able to reflect in my work.
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HBA: How do you stay motivated when rejection is such a big part of being an actor?
Nour: There are lots of ups and downs, but I try to stay positive. If I don’t get a part then I tell myself it’s not because I'm not good enough, but instead it’s a part that just isn’t meant for me. I focus on the fact that there will be a better role waiting just around the next corner.
HBA: Is it a hard industry to be a female in?
Nour: It’s actually hard for both men and woman. It’s hard for anyone to maintain a certain level of success. However, it has these incredible moments of glory that make you forget about the difficult things you have been through — those are what make it all worthwhile.
HBA: Is there a pressure to look a certain way?
Nour: Absolutely. We live in a world ruled by media, so there is constant pressure. I am always exposed and that affected me when I first started out. I felt a need to conform to expectations. But as I’ve gotten older I realise that I want to be me, I need to be myself. If I'm happy and comfortable, then that's transmitted into my work and my audience will then feel it. That is what success is all about for me.
HBA: What is your biggest achievement career-wise?
Nour: I keep on trying and never give up. I am still here doing what I do and what I love. I see that as an achievement.
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HBA: What are you most proud of personally?
Nour: My children. It’s not easy to build a private life when you are in the spotlight, but my family give me strength and I am so proud of them.
HBA: What kind of mother are you?
Nour:  I am a strict mother. I like my children to have a well-scheduled life. I think children need to have routine and something solid in their lives. Yes, I'm a demanding mother, because I push them to be fighters, but I want to give them as much as I know, and as much as I can, for as long as I can. That does make me a bit stressed sometimes, but we enjoy being together and I encourage them to be really open with me about everything. I accept them for who they are and they have taught me so many things about life.
HBA: What advice do you have for young girls wanting to get into acting?
Nour: Persevere and be you. People must accept you exactly the way you are in order for you to be happy. Don’t be someone you’re not — ultimately that will make you miserable.
HBA: What’s next for you Nour?
Nour: I'm shooting a comedy at the moment. There are other projects in the pipeline, but nothing has been confirmed. I had a break of five years when I had my children, but now I am back with a renewed energy and am ready to take on anything.

Pick up the June 2019 issue of Harper's BAZAAR Arabia for the full interview


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Photography: Mohamed Seif
Styling: Yasmine Eissa

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Nour For Harpers Bazaar Arabia
Mohamed Seif

Dress, Dhs11,825, Peter Pilotto. Shoes, Dhs2,060, Eugene Riconneaus. Earrings, Dhs6,150, Dima