Yousra is an Egyptian actress, singer, United Nations good will ambassador and an internationally acclaimed artistic icon.
She is one of the most prominent actresses not only in Egypt but in the Arab region.
Yousra was born on March 10, 1951 as Sevin Hafez Nesim. In 1980, she debuted in the film “Athkiya' Laken Aghbiya” (Smart yet Stupid).
Yousra performed in numerous movies such as “Kasr Fel Hawaa” (Castle in the Air), “Fatah Tabhath Ann al-Hob” (A Girl Looking for Love), “Alf Bossa Wa Bossa” (A Thousand and One Kisses), and “Ebtessama Waheda Takfi” (One Smile is Enough).
Yousra formed a successful duo with superstar Adel Emam, the matter that resulted in a number of successful films that enriched the Egyptian cinema such as “Shabab Yarkoss Fawk al-Nar” (Youth Dancing on Fire) , “Al-Ensan Yaeesh Mara Waheda” (Man Only Lives Once) , “Ala Bab al-Wazeer” (At the Door of the Minister) , “Al-Avocato” (The Lawyer) , “Al-Ins Wal-Gen” ( The Human and the Goblin) , “Karakoun Fel Shareih” ( A Police Station in the Street), “Al-Mansi” (The Forgotten), “Al-Irhab Wal Kabab” (Terrorism and Kebab), “Toyour Al-Zalam” (Birds of Darkness), and “Bobos” among others.
Yousra was included by Arabian Business among The World’s 100 Most Powerful Arab Women and by The Middle East among the 50 Most Influential Arabs.
In 2015, she was awarded the Achievement in Cinema Award at the Arab Women of the Year ceremony in London.
Throughout her artistic career, Yousra was granted more than 60 local, regional and international awards, most prominently at Cannes Film Festival and Venice Film Festival.
Yousra's cooperation with the internationally acclaimed director Youssef Chahine greatly influenced her career.
Among her important movies with Chahine are “Hadduta Masreya” (An Egyptian Tale), "Iskendereya Kaman we Kaman" (Alexandria More and More), and "Al-Mohager" (The Immigrant).
After a long career, including 85 films and 20 television series, Yousra started to dedicate some of her efforts to social issues, particularly human trafficking.
She engages in humanitarian and advocacy work for women and children.
Yousra participated in the World Economic Forum’s sessions in Switzerland, Jordan and Egypt because of her humanitarian work.
She is currently a goodwill ambassador for many United Nations institutions, including the United Nations Development Programme, UNAIDS and the joinwt United Nations program on HIV/AIDS.
She was the honorary president of Cairo International Film festival in 2017.
In honor of Yousra's rich artistic career, one of El-Gouna city streets was named after the Egyptian superstar.
On 2019, Yousra, famed producer and head of Cairo International Film Festival Mohamed Hefzy and acclaimed director Amr Salama were chosen as members to the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.
Yousra was the first Egyptian and Arab female filmmaker to attend Oscar ceremony and walk on its red carpet.
On November 2019, America Abroad Media (AAM) honored Egyptian superstar Yousra at its seventh annual Awards Dinner in Washington, D.C.
AAM honors outstanding leaders whose work meets international standards and exemplifies the power of media to inform, educate and empower.
AAM believes that Yousra’s collective work provides American audiences with a glimpse into the history of the Egyptian entertainment industry, its role as a catalyst for social dialogue, its powerful resonance throughout the Arab world, and its ability to lift taboos and bring forth positive change.
"Yousra is an icon in the Middle East and a true inspiration to her millions of fans, both through her brilliant work as an actress on screen, and her devotion to her society and a better world.” said Aaron Lobel, founder and president of America Abroad Media. “AAM is proud to honor the incomparable Yousra at our 7th Annual Awards Dinner in Washington, D.C."
Commenting on receiving her award, Yousra said, “I feel proud to represent my country and the Arab world and honored to receive such valuable and important award. I’m really happy that my work is being celebrated.”
Many top Hollywood stars congratulated Yousra on her award, including Harvey Keitel. “In your award is my reward, because I have this opportunity to tell you, ever since that night I first met you in Cairo, how lovely and strong an impression you made on us.
You invited us for dinner, you cooked for us, you introduced us to your friends and walked the streets of Cairo with us, revealing its magic. In those days, the day to day walks, we were treated to the phenomena of you being greeted by your fans. The joy and adulation they displayed, and seeing you, reflected the warmth and respect you exchanged with them in your greetings and friendliness.” said Keitel.
“Your place in cinema is memorialized in this award that you receive, and your place in the hearts and minds of your fans is memorialized by their reach to you on the streets of Cairo. Congratulations my dear...” Keitel added.
While John Malkovich said, “I’m here to send my greetings to Yousra, who is an old friend of mine, who is a great Egyptian actress and singer, a long-serving goodwill ambassador for UNESCO and she has worked extensively for women’s rights and women’s empowerment in Egypt and the Middle East. Yousra is a great ambassador for Egyptian cinema and for the Egyptian people. She’s warm and kind, funny, talented. Yousra, I’m delighted for you, I’m delighted that you are receiving this award. Sorry I can’t be there, I’m shooting out in Los Angeles. I wish you all the best, Yousra, in everything you do…”
Hollywood actress Vanessa Williams said, “My dear Yousra, congratulations on this great honor and award you’re receiving tonight from AAM. I am so thrilled that you’re being recognized here in the United States for your outstanding work as an actress and your iconic career. I’ve sailed the Red Sea with you in Egypt and been by your side at both the El Gouna and Dubai Film Festivals. I’ve seen firsthand the love that the people of Egypt and the Middle East have for you. Through your art you have given a voice to many women and others who might not have otherwise been heard, and in everything you do on and off screen, your genuine sense of humanity shines through. That’s why for more than four decades you have established such a unique and personal bond with tens of millions of fans. Yousra, you are a true inspiration and a role model for women in the Middle East, and indeed, around the world. Congratulations again, my dear friend, for this well-deserved honor.”
Variety’s film critic Jay Weissberg said, “I could talk about Yousra as an incredibly sensitive actress, and I could talk about all the different roles that she’s made in so many classic Egyptian films and classic Ramadan series. I could talk about how much time she’s given to some of the charities that she supported and all of the good works that she’s done as a film star. But what I really like to talk about is how Yousra responds to her public, because I’ve traveled around the MENA region with her a number of times, and I’ve never seen a movie star who is so generous with the public, who is so giving, who gives so much joy. The moment that Yousra walks into a room, whether it’s a restaurant, whether it’s a boulevard, whether it’s a hotel lobby, people light up, it doesn’t matter what age they are, it doesn’t matter what country, we can be in Morocco, we can be in Abu Dhabi, we can be in Egypt, everywhere that I’ve gone with her in public, there is joy that I see in people’s faces. She is the most generous of actors I’ve ever known.”
Egyptian celebrities also congratulated Yousra on her award. Director Marwan Hamed expressed his happiness for her, saying “Yousra is among the most important actresses in the history of Egyptian cinema.
Her career is full of diverse and different roles. Besides, on a personal level, she’s amazing and compassionate, and her acting career didn’t change that. I have great love and respect for her, as she supported me in the beginning of my career when she starred in my directorial debut, The Yacoubian Building, and supported many others. We are talking here about a genuine actress who is the pride and joy of Egyptian cinema. We are all proud to work in an industry that has such a valuable and great person.”
Egyptian businessman Naguib Sawiris said, “Yousra is a star since the beginning of her career. Her performances are very convincing and spontaneous that I thought she inherited her style from Egyptian legend Soad Hosny. Yousra is one of the brightest and most sincere stars in the film industry.”
Businessman Samih Sawiris said, “I believe that Yousra has been able to replace Egyptian star Soad Hosny in Egyptian cinema for many years. Her role in the film industry is still going on and will never stop. She is one of the best examples of Egyptian cinema. She’s been a very dear friend of mine for ages, and that gives me great pleasure. And on a personal level, needless to say, she always supports everyone.”
Egyptian actress Shereen Reda said, “Yousra is a legend, a living legend without a doubt. She is an amazing person and a great actress. She’s been there for me ever since I first worked with her. She’s always there for everybody. Congratulations, Siva, and I hope to see you very soon to congratulate you in person. Congratulations, you deserve the best.”
While screenwriter Tamer Habib said, “She is simply everything to me. I think that those who don’t know Yousra are missing out on a lot. She is a walking “love story” and she fills the air with positive energy wherever she goes, inside and outside filming locations. She is always there for all of us and we all owe her big for it. She is one of the most important five people in my life and I’m really lucky to have her in my life.”
Director Inas El Degheidy also congratulated her, saying “Yousra is a beautiful person and an actress that influenced both Arab and Egyptian cinema.
She is not only famous in the Arab world, but also very well-known internationally as a first-class Egyptian actress, besides, she has great relationships with foreign actors and filmmakers.”
The event was attended by many celebrities, decision-makers, diplomats, and members of the creative arts and entertainment industry, including Hollywood director Peter Berg, Yousef Al Otaiba, UAE Ambassador to the US, Fayçal Gouia, Tunisia Ambassador to the US, Abdullah Al Khalifa, Bahrain Ambassador to the US, Hatem Elatawy, Deputy Chief of Mission at Embassy of Egypt in Washington, D.C., General John Allen, President of Brookings Institution, Jennifer Isham, former President of Tribeca Film Festival, Christopher Isham, Washington Bureau Chief at CBS News, Farah Pandith, Co-Chair and former special representative to Muslim Communities at the US Department of State, Juan Zarate, Co-Chair, Donald Lassere, President and CEO of the Muhammad Ali Center, Louisville, KY, Jay Weissberg, film critic at Variety, and Egyptian diplomat Gamal Helal.
Yousra received many honors from international festivals, including the Cannes Film Festival, Cairo International Film Festival, Beirut International Film Festival in Lebanon, in addition to the Institut du Monde Arabe (Arab World Institute) in Paris, and the Royal College of Physicians in London. Yousra was chosen to be a member of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (The Oscars) in 2019.
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