By Sultan Abu Tair
In spite of the fact that her success exceeded the Arab world, she is still humble because she was meant to be a drama star. She managed to enter every Arab household through her work. From one work to another we discover more about her and how talented she is at embodying different characters. As we know not all people who appear on the screen are real actors. In every role she plays we sense something special, she is “Turfa” who made us laugh and she played in the series of “Shamye” who played on the chords of our feelings, she performed exquisitely. On the course of the past 25 years Murtaja was able to make her own mark. She is the cover star of our first issue for this year. We interviewed and tried to get to Murtaja’s depths to know who she really is. By the way she answered the questions we discovered that her innately smartness played a key role in making people love her. Here is our spontaneous and exclusive interview with her.
Sultan: let’s start with the scene where Shukran steels an apple on the “salasel al-dahab” series and the pictures that were disseminated on the internet before airing the series. Did you really steel the apple and ate it?
Shoukran: honestly I wasn’t steeling the apple, I was picking red radish and for the picture’s sake I took it with the radish. I never steel anything, if I crave something I simply ask for it.
Sultan: do you prefer red or green apples?
Shoukran: I love the green apples, they are a delight.
Sultan: a lot of singers made songs about apples, the latest of which was Ramy Ayach’s with his song “Ya Tufaha.” Are you friends of Ramy’s? Or you are still a devoted fan of Wael Kfoury?
Shoukran: it happened that Ramy Ayach is performing today in Damascus, and he invited me to come. Yes I am friends with him and his family, even though we don’t meet that much but we have a strong friendship. I love his voice and his taste in music, I am a fan of his. That does not negate the fact that I am a fan of Wael Kfoury.
Sultan: “Salesal al-Dahab” is your new upcoming work. What should we expect from Shukran in this role?
Shoukran: The script was beautifully written but I always add my own touch “Em Fouzy” in this work is not like any other character I played before, she is the key character in this work, a main character next to the great actor Bassam Kousa, and this is due to my hard work.
Sultan: people like to get to know the artist’s personal life but you put built a wall between you and them, why?
Shoukran: because it is my life, it is private and my own, and so I don’t like to about it. They only have to pay attention to my professional life. Personal life is connected to other people around me and I respect their privacy. A lot of artists we don’t know nothing about their personal lives, such as Faten Hamama and Shadya. I chose this career so I am under the spotlight, hence the audience need to occupy themselves with my professional life.
Sultan: what are the characters that other actresses played and positively provoked you at the drama level?
Shoukran: two characters provoked me in a drama work called “Love Story/Hadutat Hub” and I wished I could play one of the two characters played by Pamela El-Kik and Nawal Kamel. I loved “Almaz” character by Pamela, she excelled herself.
Sultan: what provokes you at the personal and professional levels?
Shoukran: I am very irritated by stupidity, especially if things were obvious. Also the dogmatic person who sticks to their opinions even though they are wrong. As well as coldness and the hesitation in saying what’s in your mind. I also hate unjust at the personal and professional levels like giving an important role to an untalented actor who doesn’t deserve the opportunity, this thing pains me and irritates me. I am provoked by not sticking the basic principles of our profession and the negligence of other peoples’ success.
Sultan: what makes Murtaja happy and what makes her cry?
Shoukran: being let down. When you place your trust in someone and they fail you, it makes me cry a river. I am happy by my success and generosity in all its forms, the moments I spend with my family and mother, when I am in my car driving in the streets of Damascus, when I am the cause of someone else’s happiness and I am happy for where Syria is heading now.
Sultan: what is the reason for the sadness in your eyes?
Shoukran: (laughing): I don’t know, there are a lot of things we can’t discuss here. The loss of my father saddens me, I wish he was next to me in a lot of times, the loss of a lot of my friends too and the unjust that I suffer from in my career. The perfect world in my mind does not exist, I don’t want a utopia but a life full of love and affinity.
Sultan: In a statement by Elissa, she said that she was deprived of the gift of giving birth and she doesn’t mind adoption, how similar is your situation to hers? And do you consider this the end of the world? And what is your comment on adoption?
Shoukran: I was too deprived of the gift of giving birth just like Elissa but I don’t think it is the end of the world, I believe that God doesn’t give you everything and everyone’s fate differs from the other. I am neither with nor against adoption, but I am against it in our Arab societies. Our societies can’t bear this idea, they are cruel and don’t accept the other let alone children whom might be adopted.
Sultan: with whom does Shukran wish to work with?
Shoukran: I want to work with the great artist Muna Wassef after her works of “Welada men el khasera” and “Al Sandouk Al Aswad.” Also, I would like to work with the great actors Samia Al-Jazayeri and Ayman Zeidan. And there’s a great actor whom I haven’t the honor of working with and that is Samar Samy. I wish I could be reunited with a lot of actors but not all.
Sultan: who is the young actor whose acting draws your attention?
Shoukran: I am impressed by Raqeen silawi from Jordan in her work on “Samarqand” series, Dana Mardini from Syria, Amina Khalil from Egypt and Zeina Makki from Lebanon.
Sultan: did Shukran put a lot of effort to get to where she is now?
Shoukran: of course it was. I wouldn’t have been where I am today if I haven’t put a lot of efforts.
Sultan: is Shukran treated unjustly by the Arab press? We have never seen you on an Arab magazine’s cover before, what is the reason behind that in your opinion?
Shoukran: yes I was treated unjustly. I was never the star of an Arab magazine before. I thank “Soul Arabia” because they treated me fairly. I don’t know the reasons why I wasn’t the star of the Magazines covers, it is up to the magazines’ executives after all. I don’t know what is required to be a cover star of a prominent magazine. It bothers me when they ask for exclusive news and to participate in videos and at the same time knowing that they are not treating me in a just way. When it comes to covering my latest news they are doing a good job and I am not treated unjustly in that regard.
Sultan: you said, in the presence of Amal Arafa, that you are always given roles with the character described as ugly because that suits you. A lot of people though this statement to be brave and respected your opinion. Is this truly what Shukran sees when she looks at herself in the mirror?
Shoukran: this has always been the truth. I don’t consider myself to be the most beautiful woman in the world, it’s enough that I am beautiful from the inside because I am full of love; I love God and the people. A person whom loves others and doesn’t hurt is a beautiful human being and I think I am one of those.
Sultan: what is your message to the people that don’t love you?
Shoukran: I have nothing but love for them. We were created to love and hate.