Sherihan: Egypt’s Comeback Queen Actress

Illustration by Ali Mandalawi

With one lively advertisement for Vodafone Egypt, actress Sherihan Al-Shalakani has erased the gap of nearly twenty years, with the ad topping Google search engine and social media platforms and becoming a sensational hit on the first day of the holy month.

The advertisement includes several stages of the Egyptian actress, singer and dancer's life. It starts with the star looking out from a balcony overlooking the Nile at sunset as the music of her famous “Alf Leila w Leila” episode plays – the song ruled the charts in 1985 and moves on to highlight her journey on her Fawazeer Ramadan show which continues to be recalled as one of the most iconic shows aired during Ramadan. It also portrays how she was able to overcome her tragic car accident followed by years of struggle with cancer.

The 52-year old star hails from a popular showbiz family. Born on 6 December 1964 in Zamalek district in Cairo to Ahmed Abdel-Fattah Al-Shalakani and  the model Awatef Hashem, she is the half-sister of the late popular actor and guitarist Omar Khorshid who achieved tremendous acclaim for his music at a young age.  Khorshid supported Sherihan after realizing that she had a passion for performing and helped her to enter the movie business. She has two sisters, Gihan, the widow of late sports anchor Fayez el Zomor, and Howaida, the wife of film director Karim Dhiaa' Al-Din.

She began her artistic life at the age of four and worked in theater, cinema and television. As a child, Sherihan studied expressive dancing in the French capital, Paris. Then she returned to Egypt and participated in the series "The Miracle" produced for her by her mother.

In 1970, Sherihan presented her first artistic work at the age of six, when her brother, Omar Khorshid, introduced her to Abdel Halim Hafez to act in the movie "A Quarter of a Dozen Bad Guys" with Fouad Al-Muhandis and Shweikar and in another movie called "Cat on fire". She went on to act in  many significant films, the most important of which are "The Virgin and the White Hair", "Irq Al Balah” (Date Wine (, "Crystal" and “Kesh Malek”.

The Egyptian star married the Moroccan Prince Allal El Fassi, but their marriage did not last long because of the very jealous nature of "El Fassi" which caused her many problems. She is married now to Jordanian businessman Alaa Al-Khawaja and has two children with him:  Taliya Al Khawaja and Loulwa Al Khawaja.

Sherihan's life is full of drama, tragedy and pain. In the eighties, Sherihan filed a case against her father's family to prove her lineage as her mother married her father with a non-official marriage certificate and her uncle Ali Al-Shalakani refused to admit her lineage to the family and return her inheritance. The judiciary decided to approve her lineage to her father after a long-running court case. In 1987, Sherihan suffered a personal blow when her mother succumbed to cancer.

On the television screen, Sherihan made her mark as a TV performer with her beautiful voice, dance moves and personality. Children of the eighties and early nineties will remember her hugely popular nightly musical quiz show “Fawazeer Ramadan”, that aired during the holy month of Ramadan for years. It was a long-running popular show and  was eagerly awaited by viewers all over Egypt and the Arab world. Among the most famous TV shows she presented are "Hagat wa Mehtagat" and "Alf Leila w Leila".

Sherihan is known for her roles in plays including "Sharea Mohamed Ali", "Sokk Ala Banatak" and "Alashan Khater Oyounak". Despite the lack of plays that she performed, they were bound to achieve many successes at the artistic level.

In 1989, the actress was severely hurt in a car accident which led to many serious spinal injuries. In 2002, she was diagnosed with salivary gland cancer, but she showed a rare courage and challenge in facing the most dangerous and rare types of cancer that affects one in 10 million people. She performed several surgeries to remove the gland and her right cheek muscle in France. All this led to her retirement in 2002, but she came out of retirement in 2016 after her treatment and appeared in Tahrir Square during the January 25 revolution until Mubarak stepped down.

Sherihan's struggles taught her the importance of determination and her loyal fans watched her overcome one challenge after another. Sherihan is still the beautiful artist who stands with strength and confidence.