Annabella Hilal has both the beauty and charm to make her stand out among a crowd of thousands. She is both eloquent and courteous but is not afraid to make choices that some might find offensive. She has the poise and confidence of a queen and speaks with a bewitching cadence. She appears every Sunday night on “Duo Al Mashahir” where she captivates millions of viewers with her innocent smile and her soft articulate voice. It would be remiss if we didn’t mention the fact that she is also the most followed female Lebanese presenter on Instagram.
Hilal is a law graduate and was a practicing lawyer before becoming a successful media presenter and mother. Majalla had the pleasure of interviewing Hilal and she spoke to us about her latest work and the secret to her success.
Q: After three seasons on “Duo Al Mashahir”, are you considering hosting a new show made just for you?
A: Anything is possible and I am always open to change, I am also thinking of new and different ideas. However, I want to approach a winning concept that will match my success on “Duo”. I shouldn’t change just for the sake of change, I should change in a way that maintains my success and that is my number one priority.
Q: Does Annabella Hilal have any rivals in the media industry?
A: Your question shouldn’t focus on any of my rivals; your question should focus on the fact that there is currently no competitive rival for “MTV”. No channel has a program that is similar to ours airing during the same timeslot; our program is also a unique one that is cultural, social and fun.
Q: Would you consider going back to practicing law if you stopped appearing on TV?
A: I don’t know what the future holds for me and I believe in living in the present moment. I am proud of all my present success and I also had a wonderful past that I will share with my children one day. At the end of the day I am ready for whatever the coming days and years have in store for me.
Q: You have quite a large fan base, is that something that makes you happy? And how would you describe your relationship with your fans?
A: I am happy that I get to connect with fans both in real life and through social media, and I love reading my fans’ comments, both the positive ones and the negative ones. Furthermore, I have over a two million followers on Instagram, making me the most followed Lebanese female presenter and that is something I take a lot of pride in.
Q: Has your relationship with your husband, Dr. Nader Saab, changed after 10 years of marriage?
A: My relationship with Dr. Nader Saab has evolved over the last 10 years and has become stronger than ever, these beautiful years and months seem to go by quickly, this is especially true since we had our children and built a strong family unit.
Q: A lot of your colleagues who took part in Miss Lebanon have gone on to become actresses, what do you think of them as actresses?
A: I watch all of them and some of them have become real professionals in the field, which is wonderful sense acting is a really tough business to get into in the first place. I am not interested in nor am I considering acting at the present moment.
Q: Some of Simon Al Asmar’s comments towards contestants in “Duo Al Mashahir” can be hurtful and some would consider them mean-spirited, what do you say to that?
A: That’s just the way Simon is, he won’t change the way he does things. As a matter of fact, his method of criticism is the secret behind many success stories in the industry, 90 percent of today’s stars have trained under Simon’s guidance and criticism which is why we respect his approach and comments.
Q: As someone who has successfully balanced their career, marriage and motherhood, what advice would you give to Arab women?
A: You need to coordinate between and balance all your roles and obligations. Do not give up on your domestic life or your professional life, as you can be successful on both fronts.
Q: Your bold sense of fashion has landed you some criticism, how do you respond to such criticism?
A: I do make bold choices in the clothes I wear and I believe that my fashion suits me; however I do welcome criticism if my clothes are indeed inappropriate for TV. While my clothes can be defiant in terms of their style and colors, I carefully choose my outfits and make sure that they are suitable for audience members and viewers at home. (I avoid outfits that others might describe as “bold”, but I see as inappropriate).
Q: Do your four children know that you are famous woman?
A: They watch my on “Duo Al Mashahir” during weekends, but they don’t catch me on school nights as they go to bed early. Sometimes during holidays I take them with me to the studio.
Q: Would you ever consider giving up your career and devoting all your time to your family?
A: If the time comes where they need me to spend a lot more time with them, then I would be more than prepared to halt my career for them.
Q: Have you ever thought about leaving Lebanon, considering the internal problems that the country is going through, the fact that many of your family members are residing in the United States and your husband often works outside of Lebanon?
A: I have never considered leaving Lebanon, despite the hard times that it is going through and my husband shares my sentiments. We will never abandon Lebanon and will stay there throughout both its good and bad times.
Q: What TV series have enjoyed watching lately?
A: In all honesty, I haven’t been keeping up with many series lately as my work on “Duo Al Mashahir” has been taking up most of my time. But I have been recently watched “Emm El Banet”.
Q: Of all the latest albums that have been released, which album has been Annabella’s car journey soundtrack?
A: Amr Diab’s newest album.
Q: Any final words for your Arab fans and advice for working mothers?
A: Don’t give up on your professional ambitions.