Huda al-Khatib built an acting career in Gulf dramas playing a variety of roles despite attempts by directors to typecast her as a dominating evil woman.
Her foray into entertainment started after she studied interior design in the United States and then went to work at Dubai TV. She started acting 1994 in the TV series "Abi", "Afwan", and she was known widely for her role in the 1997 drama "Alqarar al Akhir".
In Kuwait, it was her success in "The Last Decision" soap opera that catapulted her to larger roles in the Gulf and other Arab countries.
Al-Khatib, 61, also owns a production company that provides services such as finding technicians, locating accommodations and creating costumes and design for TV and film companies working in the Gulf.
Her latest TV production, also the first that she has done in Cairo, is "If You Forgot". She appears with a group of stars, including Hadi al-Bajuri and Riyad al-Khuli.
Al-Shorfa interviewed al-Khatib in Kuwait.
Al-Shorfa: What is the reason for your visit to Kuwait?
Huda al-Khatib: I am taking part in a theatre production called "Hayyal Bou Tayr", which is an adaptation of a play by French writer Mouliere called "Tartuffe".
It is produced in the Kuwaiti dialect and was written by satirist J'afar Rajab. I am rehearsing in Kuwait with director Suleman al-Bassam and the Cultural Production Foundation before traveling to Al-Madina Theatre in Beirut on July 2nd. Actors Jasem al-Nabhan, Faisal al-Ameri,Ahmed Iraj, and Fatma al-Saffi are taking part as well.
Kuwait is my second homeland after the Emirates. I love Kuwait because of my dad, who came here many times.
Al-Shorfa: Who do you play in this production?
Al-Khatib: I play the role of Umm-Amin, who is transformed from a negative character into a woman who defends her sons, controls events, and values money, command, power and prestige.
Al-Shorfa: Some time ago you shot "If You Forgot", your first drama production and leading role in Cairo. Do you have plans to appear in films?
Al-Khatib: An actor who does not hope to work in Egyptian cinema does not exist in the Arab world. With its long history and all its resources, I think whoever says the opposite is telling a lie and I don't believe it.
I hope to do Egyptian cinema but only on my terms, which fit the customs and traditions of the Gulf. I was offered several scripts, but they did not match my values.
I will not appear in a scene where I am touching a male actor because viewers are too smart to be taken lightly. When I find the right script that meets my conditions, I will accept it immediately.
Al-Shorfa: But why did you decide spend this year away from the TV screen?
Al-Khatib: The scripts I was offered this year were similar to what I had done in the past. The moment producers and screenwriters find that an actor is successful in a certain role, they tend to confine the actor to the same role. They prefer low risk and guaranteed success, and this is not right.
I decided to take a break from TV, to do some work in another milieu. I have never feared making such a decision. Since acting is my destiny, I joined the Hayal Bou Tayr team.
Al-Shorfa: How do you evaluate the performance of actresses in the Gulf acting scene?
Al-Khatib: Actresses must pay attention to their work. It is not enough that they appear with the appropriate shape, whether in clothes or make-up. What we see nowadays is a fiasco that must be stopped because it does not lend credibility to the productions.
It is not logical that an actress playing a Bedouin woman should have make-up on her face that does not fit the character. When I took part in a drama in a Bedouin setting, I appeared on TV without a speck of make-up. Others will not agree to appear in that shape.
This is not only a mistake by the actress, but the director who must steer everyone according to his point of view.
Al-Shorfa: Why are productions on nomadic life restricted to what is shot in Jordan or Syria?
Al-Khatib: This question must be posed to the producers working in such productions. I do hope that they would give a thought to the epics and stories present in the different Gulf countries.
It's also nice to be introduced to the nomadic environment in Kuwait or other countries in the Gulf. When I played the role in the UAE Bedouin drama "Al-Mataya Paths", all the actors around me were from the Emirates. Therefore, it was produced according to standards and with the proper Emirates Bedouin accent as determined by experts.