Many celebrities we know and love today started their careers at a very young age. These talented performers and actors not only had a talent that was apparent at an early age, some came from a background of actors and producers while others had a natural talent that was picked up on by family and mentors. child stars
We embark on a journey through the years to find out how these stars came to be who they are on our screens today.
By Mariam Elhamy
Ninochka Manoug Kupelian is actually Lebleba’s real name, named by her mother after the 1939 movie Ninotchka. Lebleba is. The half Armenian, half Egyptian star saw her first amateur gala at the Auberge Des Pyramides at age 5. Fascinated by the show, she immediately got on the table and started to imitate the performance.
Noticed by one of the jury members, cinema director Niazi Mustafa asked Lebleba’s parents if she could be a part of his film. Lebleba became well known for her witty manner and sassiness. Years later, she was offered a more serious lead role by the late director Atef Al-Tayeb in his film Layali Sakhena, which won 28 international awards, 7 of which Lebleba claimed!
Nelly Artin Kalfayan who is of Armenian origin, came from a family of artists. Her father, Artin Kalvian was a film director, her older sister, Feyrouz, and her cousin Lebleba were both very famous child actresses. She started her acting and singing career when she was about 4-years-old, and appeared in a dozen movies. child stars
She also did a lot of theater and radio series, which paved the way for her incredibly known and wildly loved show Fawazir Ramadan. Nelly got her first lead role when she was 17 in the film Al Murahiqa as Saghira. She was particularly distinguished after her role in the television drama Shaye Men Al Azab where she played alongside actor Mohamed Abdel Wahab.
Beloved actress, singer and dancer Sherihan had also started her acting career at the age of 4. Her brother Omar Khorshid was a well-known actor and guitarist. He helped Sherihan land many roles in cinema before he passed away in 1981. Some of her earlier work includes Rayya W Skina (1984), Khalli Balak Men ‘A’lak and Alf Leila W Leila (1985).
By 1977, Sherihan was 12 years old when she was asked to act in her very first film. She is perhaps best known for Fawazir Ramadan where she rolled out one outstanding performance after the next in what was considered at the time avant-garde, fashion-forward outfits. child stars
Faten Hamama, known as “Lady of the screen”, made her first screen appearance in 1939, when she was only a 7-year-old. She had won a contest for the most beautiful child in Egypt, and her father, who shared with her a love of cinema, sent her picture to director Mohammed Karim who was looking at the time for a child for his new film Yom Said with Egyptian musician Mohamed Abdel Wahab.
Faten auditioned and won the role. While shooting, the filmmakers were so impressed with her performance that they decided to give her more lines and scenes than what was in the original script. Faten later graduated from the High Institute for Acting in 1947 and portrayed many highly acclaimed roles still revered until today.
Dubbed “Cinderella of Egyptian cinema”, Soad Hosny was born to an artistic family. Her father, Mohamed Hosny, was a renowned calligrapher who contributed embroidered script to the Holy Ka’ba and created several book and film covers. Soad and her sister Nagat learned to play music and sing thanks to their brother Ezz Eddin Hosni, a music composer. They also had a cello player, a jewelry designer, a painter and another actress in the family.
Soad started singing in a popular kids TV program when she was just 3 years old and when she was 16, she made her film debut in Hasan and Naeima. She acted alongside many distinguished faces like Hussein Fahmy, Roshdy Abaza, and Taheya Karioka. Some of her famous work includes Saghira Al Hob, Khally Balak Min ZouZou, Al-Karnak and many more cinema milestones.
Karim Abdel Aziz was raised by the great director Mohamed Abd El Aziz; which explains where his talent was nurtured. Karim joined the High Institute of Cinema in 1994 and graduated from the directing department in 1997. He later worked as an assistant director before shifting to acting. child stars
As a child, he took part in Albaad Yadhab Llma’zon Maratain (1978) and Al Mashbooh (1981), later he worked alongside great names like Ahmed Zaki and Laila Eloui in Edhak El Soura Tetlaa Helwa and with Alaa Wali El Din in Aboud Ala El Hedoud. He then starred in his first movie Leh Khaltny Ahebak with Mona Zaki, Hala Shiha and Ahmed Helmy.
Donia and Amy Samir Ghanem
Being born into a family of iconic screen and stage stars, Donia and Amy Samir Ghanem soon proved to be multitalented. Donia, a singer and actress, took part in TV shows from the age of 10. She graduated university and starred in her first-ever film with Mohamed Henedy in Yana Ya Khalty, which proved to be her big break.
As for Amy, her father, Samir Ghanem, gave her her first role in the comedic play Tara Lam Lam. Not much later she started landing roles in film and TV. She acted alongside Ahmed Helmy in X-Large and Bolbol Hairan and starred with Ramez Galal and Hassan Hosny in Ghesh Elzawgeya where she solidified her place as a bona fide comedic force.
Khaled Abol Naga
Khaled Abol Naga became interested in acting at an early age. His first ever work was with Naglaa Fathi in a film called Madness of Love, when he was only 10 years old. He studied Computer Science with a minor in Theater and Drama, worked as a part-time model and was a talk show host and radio presenter in the 1990s.
Later, he joined the theatre department at The American University in Cairo, where he first discovered his talent for acting. He then decided to take it a step further and went to study film and theater in the United States where he stayed with his elder brother the renowned architect Tarek Abol Naga. Acclaimed director Daoud Abdel Sayed offered him his first lead role in the film A Citizen, An Informant & A Thief in 2001 and he has played many important roles since then. child stars
Sherif Ramzy was born into a family of filmmakers and actors. His father is film distributor and producer Mohamed H. Ramzy, and his grandfather, Hassan Ramzy, is famous film director and distributor and founder of El Nasr Film Company and the first president of the chamber of Egyptian Cinema Industry. At the age of 5, Sherif’s parents divorced and he went on to live with his mother at his grandparents’ house. This enabled him to be close to and learn from his grandfather, the legendary actor Salah Zulficar.
When he was 12, Sherif started participating in school plays, he also enjoyed creating and directing his own plays with his friends, and performing them in front of his family. Sherif starred in his first big role in Asrar El Banat directed by Magdy Ahmed Aly who offered him the role after he heard about him from Studio El Momathel where he went to develop his acting skills.
Amir El Masry was born in Egypt and raised in London. He played alongside Mohamed Henedy in Ramadan Mabrouk Abu Al-Alamein Hamouda when he was almost 18 years old. He won the title for Best Young Actor at the Egyptian Oscars a year later and received national acclaim.
He starred in Jon Stewart’s feature Rosewater, establishing himself as a British award-winning actor. Since then, he has done several films abroad but still continues to take roles in Egyptian cinema.
Ahmed Dash’s talent was first discovered by director Mariam Abou Ouf. He began by doing TV commercials then starred in his first film La Moakhza when he was thirteen. He has done several small roles since then including Photocopy and Kasablanka. child stars
Menna Arafa started acting when she was only 6 years old. She was chosen by director Samir Seif for his series Cinderella, in which she played a young, cheeky girl, alongside Mona Zaki and Mohamed Ramadan. Later, she became famous for her roles in comedies like Matab Sena’y with Ahmed Helmy and the series Ragel W Set Setat with Ashraf Abdel Baqi and Liqaa Al Khamissy.