Nadine Njeim: Beauty Queen Turned Screen Queen

Nadine Njeim was born in Baalbek District, Lebanon, in 1984 to a Lebanese Christian father and a Tunisian Muslim mother. Her multi-faith upbringing taught her tolerance and understanding from a young age. “I am saddened when I read posts attacking other religions,” she says, “I am lucky that I have been raised to accept others and to be introduced to both Christian and Islamic religions and respect them both.” Nadine grew up in the midst of the Lebanese civil war which she days brought her closer to her parents and five siblings.

Since age 12, Nadine dreamt of taking in part in Miss Lebanon, while in parallel planning to study medicine to become a plastic surgeon, but her medical ambitions gave way to the lure of the more glamorous life of a model. At age 16, Nadine began modeling, and at age 20, her life trajectory changed for good when she won the coveted Miss Lebanon Crown in 2004. She then went on to represent her country in Miss Universe 2005 in Thailand. Subsequently, she “felt the thirst to keep going, to stay in the spotlight”. While Nadine may have opted against a career in medicine and instead pursued a degree in business management, she names Mother Theresa as a role model, saying, “She is a symbol of unconditional love for people. She was there for everyone with no differentiation to race or culture.”

In 2009, she was encouraged by her friend the Lebanese writer Choukri Anis Fakhory to take up acting. She appeared on the series 'Khatwat Hob' and 'Rijél Hassém' in 2009, and won her first 'Golden Murex Award' in 2010 for her performance in ‘Khatwat Hob’. She later appeared on several other television series including 'Ajial', 'Abwab Ghaym' and 'Dhikra'. Over recent years, Nadine has become an essential part of the competitive Ramadan show race, appearing in the popular shows created for post-iftar viewings, such as Al Hayba, Nos Youm, Samra and Cello. 

The multi-talented star’s comments on her traditionalist views on gender equality caused a stir when a view of her discussing gender equality during a television interview in 2012 resurfaced in 2016. Answering questions on gender equality, she said, "I want women to stay women. If they equate me with a man, I’d feel like a man. I don’t want to. I want to stay a woman." Many interpreted her comments as against gender equality. In response to the backlash, Nadine said that her comments were deliberately taken out of context. Earlier this year, Nadine spoke to 'Harper’s Bazaar Arabia', where she clarified her position, "I defend equity not equality", she said, adding that "I see women being way more important than demanding gender equality." She thinks that the blind claim of equality is unhealthy, and that "Women should aspire to equity".

Nadine married civil engineer Hady Asmar on June 16, 2012, at a Domaine Du Comte in Daraaoun, Lebanon. The couple have two children, daughter Heaven and son Giovanni.  She has volunteered as a first-aid worker in the Lebanese Red Crescent organization for several years.

 


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