She is classy and traditional, but progressively outspoken. She is always dressed to impress, but never fails to spontaneously burst into song or dance with her grandchildren. She never desires attention, but her dynamic personality, beauty, talent, and kindness never fail to warrant it. Her beauty is hard to provide justice to with words.
Lobna Abdel-Aziz is one of the most beloved and known women in the Middle East. She also happens to be my grandmother.
Like all icons, my grandmother is difficult to describe and the expanse of both her talents and her love is hard to provide justice to. A trendsetter, she made the idea of a strong female lead acceptable, historically paving the way for Middle-Eastern actresses. My grandmother's life is full of many exciting stories and adventures but, even to me, she often feels like a humble enigma.
However, in my time as her doting "sparrow", I have heard many stories from either her mouth or the mouth of my mother that have allowed me to piece together her fascinating life story.
Lobna was born in Cairo, Egypt in the quaint and charming neighborhood of Zamalek. A natural-born leader, young "Lou-Lou" often spearheaded elaborate productions and activities for her younger siblings. Constantly looking for a new and exciting opportunity, at the ripe age of 13, Lou got a job at the local radio station as a voice actor.
Noticing her obvious talent for acting, her coworkers encouraged her to audition for her high school's plays and musicals. Although the youngest actress at the auditions, Lobna was awarded the lead role.
Despite her passion for writing and journalism, by graduation, teenage Lobna had received a Fulbright scholarship to study Drama at UCLA. In the competitive and star-filled world of Los Angeles, Lobna remained a compelling force to be reckoned with. She was (and remains) both captivating and noticeably talented. Even in L.A, Lobna found herself center-stage of many UCLA productions while still finding time to create lifelong friendships with students and professors alike. When she returned to Cairo and starred in films like "Bahia," and "Bride of the Nile," the public became obsessed with the green-eyed, dark-haired beauty on their screen. From there, Lobna Abdel-Aziz launched into superstardom.
Many often call my grandmother the "Audrey Hepburn of Egypt" and, to this day, her fan base remains both enormous and dedicated. When I visited her in Cairo, I got to witness the devotion of her fans who never fail to swarm her to receive an autograph or simply express their love. For many, it is difficult to view Lobna Abdel-Aziz as anything short of an icon. However, I know my "Mamouche'' as a doting grandmother, loving mother, and a compassionate and loyal friend who makes everyone feel important.
Mamouche has never been one to seek attention, always asking others about their lives instead of talking about her own. As previously stated, it is enormously difficult to describe the humility and kindness of my grandma. However, her love for her fans illustrates these characteristics beautifully. My Mom always tells me the story of a vacation she went on with my grandmother when I was young.
At one of their cruise ship's destinations, the Mother-Daughter duo left the ship to tour the sights of a small Egyptian town. Thinking it would be a quiet and relaxing visit, free from paparazzi and crowds, Lobna did not don her usual large sunglasses and beret. Unbeknownst to her, many did recognize the Egyptian legend and, upon returning to their cruise ship, they noticed a line of hundreds of townspeople ready to meet her. Many celebrities, if off duty from their work, would make an immediate beeline for the ship. However, my grandma learned the names of every single person there and had a personal conversation with each of them.
In 2020, my grandmother remains an important figure both in her public and private life. She continues to be passionate, hard-working, and full of life. She has been known to join public protests and even attend annual award shows (where she often receives a trophy or two.) In a world that is constantly changing and often full of tension, I thank my grandma for being a crucial part of necessary progression and common kindness. Not only did she forge the path for many actresses, but also has led my family and taught us to forge our own paths.
Mamouche says I remind her of herself at a young age because we are both animated and passionate. We love writing, French Music, learning new languages, and traveling.
We both love to talk about history while eating a lot of Panettone. However, my grandma has done more than I could ever imagine. She has accomplished great feats and has paved the way for women acting in the Middle East. She has befriended Presidents and served alongside citizens.
She has protested with the public and she has inspired and continues to inspire, thousands. Getting to call myself her granddaughter is an honor. I can only hope to be the gracious, graceful, lady she is one day.