Natasha Choufani: I Still Get Nervous in Front of the Camera

"I'm currently filming a series called “Mas’ala Waqt” (A Matter of Time), which is set to air during Ramadan."

Beirut: Natasha Choufani is a young and up coming Lebanese actress who has already made her mark on the small screen and is sure to become a big star in the near future. In recent years, she appeared in critically acclaimed shows such as “El Heiba 2” (Prestige 2), “Ikterab El Hay” (The Neighborhood was Vandalized), “Nos Youm” (Half a Day), “Dwa’ir Hob” (Circles of Love) “Bint Al Shahbandar” (Shahbandar’s Daughter), “Abreya w Leken” (Innocent But...), “Kefa” (Enough). Audiences absolutely fell in love with Choufani’s complex characters in “B’ Lahza” (In a Moment) and “W Rad Gouri” (And Gouri Replied). She is still receiving high praise for her performance in the ongoing series “Ma Feye” (What’s Inside Me). We recently sat down with starlet and she spoke to us about her career and future roles. 

Q: In addition to “B’Lehza” and “Ma Feya”, do have any new projects that you’re working on? Will any of these shows air during the Ramadan season?
A: I am currently traveling between Kuwait, Syria and Lebanon to finish filming a series called “Mas’ala Waqt” (A Matter of Time), which is set to air during Ramadan. The series also stars MohamedEl Alawy, Zeina Makki and Elie Mitri. I am also filming another Ramadan series called “Maqamat El Ashq” (Adoration Levels), where I play “Nezam” the girlfriend of “Ibn Araby”, a character played by Youssef El Khal. The series also stars Nesrin Tafesh and other actors. Another project I’m involved in is “Sanae El Ahlam” (The Creator of Dreams), a series produced by Mofeed El Rafai. 

Q: Tell us more about your role in “Masalat Waqt”. 
A: The show’s plot is quite simple, it’s about a group of girlfriends who study at the same university and I play one of said friends. My character is not cliché, robotic and one dimensional, rather she’s natural and feels like a real human being. 

Q: Most of your previous works have been in dramas and you mostly play characters that have been hit with woe and tragedy. Are there any upcoming projects where you will play a different kind of role? 
A: I often ask myself the same question, and have previously asked directors to place me in more lighthearted and simple roles. However, the problem is that when directors see a certain actor’s performance, they always envision him or her in the same kind of role, which then reflects certain casting decisions. Fortunately, I am involved in a number of projects where I will play different roles that audiences aren’t used to seeing. 

Q: Will we ever see you in a comedic role?
A: I have appeared in many comedies before. For instance, I appeared in a comedy that starred Georges Khabbazz and I also acted in the Emirati sit-com “Giran” (Neighbors). I really love comedies, even though I find them harder to act in. Once I find a comedic role that’s a perfect fit for me, I will instantly audition for it. 

Q: Would you like to appear on stage with Georges Khabbazz again? 
A: Performing on stage isn’t easy, but it isn’t beyond ambitions. I have certain personal goals in regards to stage performance and I intend to achieve them. 

Q: What do you think of the current state of Lebanese theater? 
A: Lebanese theater is vibrant, this is because people have a demand for it and strive to perfect the trade. As such, directors and actors organize theater performances which become big hits, it is also important to note that organizers hold these wonderful plays without any funding from the government. 

Q: Have you considered working in the film industry? 
A: All actors love cinema and seek to work in its industry. But, I have not found a role that suits me. Once a good film role turns up, I will grab on to it. Lebanese cinema has been hugely successful in recent years, so much so that some Lebanese films have made on to the world stage. 

Q: With the recent success of your performances, do you think you now have greater responsibility when it comes to your work?
A: My role in “Ma Feye” was a complicated one, since Lara, the character I played, would change and act differently from one scene to the next. I had to put on a convincing performance for the audience while avoiding any mistakes. Now that show has aired, I feel that responsibility I have toward my acting has increased. 

Q: How do you approach your roles? Do you ever fear that you’ll put out a bad performance?
A: I get nervous before I start any role and always feel as if it’s my first ever acting experience. I was anxious before I started acting in “Ma Feye” because the character I play is complex. Nevertheless, thanks to the director, Rasha Sharbatgy, I was able to put out a performance that I never thought I could do. Rasha Sharbatgy truly has a unique and special vision when it comes to directing. 

Q: Do you pick your roles based on its importance to the plot, or based on the character’s personality? 
A: I don’t focus on such things, I only focus on the role I was chosen to do and put all my energy into bringing out my best possible performance. I am sure that my chance to play the protagonist will come in its own time. 

Q: I get the feeling that you’re nervous; do you still get shy during press interviews?
A: Yes, I still feel anxious when I’m in the media spotlight; this is part of my personality and I will probably not change as it is engrained into my nature.

Q: How would you describe your relationship with your fans? 
A: I love my fans a lot and adore when they send me screenshots of the scenes I appear in. However, I aim to be their friends rather than a perfect figure which they place on a pedestal. I also have a WhatsApp group with my fans which I use to interact with them. Additionally, I sometimes plan out shared projects for them to take part in; that is after they get their parents’ permission of course.  

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