Inside Netflix's First Arabic Original Series
Emirates Woman|June 2019
Inside Netflix's First Arabic Original Series

Actresses Salma Malhas and Aysha Shahal tough discuss empowerment, expectations and experiences with Emirates Woman

Fatma Abusief

We still remember our excitement last year when Netflix announced that it would be producing its first Arabic original series, Jinn. Later on, the streaming service revealed that its first Middle Eastern show would be a fantasy one, a genre left relatively undiscovered in the region.

Towards the end of April, Netflix released the first global teaser for Jinn, along with the release date for the young adult fantasy drama. So mark your calendars for June 13, as we are set to follow a group of teenagers in Amman, Jordan whose lives are disrupted when a spiritual figure appears in front of them in the ancient city of Petra. In the six-episode series, we will follow the teens as they try to stop the Jinn that they have unknowingly unleash from destroying the world.

This series will be a great milestone for the region, as it is set in modern Amman and ancient Petra. The upcoming series is filmed entirely on location in Jordan with a cast of regional actors. Even though the show’s premise is supernatural, it will still follow the day-to-day struggles, friendships and romances that the teenage cast go through. Jinn will introduce us to a cast of up-and-coming talent including Salma Malhas, Hamzeh Okab, Sultan Alkhail and Aysha Shahaltough.

Prior to the release of the show, we got the chance to meet and interview two of the show’s budding actresses: Salma Malhas, who plays the role of Mira, and Aysha Shahaltough, who portray’s Vera.

How did you hear about the role? How did you get cast? What was the audition process like?

Salma Malhas: I heard of the role from my theatre teacher at school. They were holding auditions at different schools in Jordan and they held one in my school, so I went. I completely thought that I wasn’t going to get it – I was 100 per cent sure, but then I got a callback. It went on and on for two months, and we had so many different callbacks and trials. In the beginning they gave me Mira, Vera and Laila.

It was very long, but I actually grew a lot from the audition process. I understood a lot of different acting techniques. Aysha Shahaltough: For me, a friend of mine told me about the auditions and I had to send a video. So, I sent one and I wanted it really bad, I mean we are talking Netflix and they are doing an Arabic series. I remember throughout the auditions I reminded myself not to get too attached to the role, cause anyone could get.

How hard was it to keep the show a secret? Are you excited for it to finally come out?

Aysha: I only told a few people, because throughout the auditioning process the role wasn’t mine yet and I didn’t want people to get too excited. I am actually worried about telling people about the role, it is a surprise.

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June 2019