Farah Charaf, the Lebanese-Turkish presenter, sure is one of the most aspiring upcoming talents today. And not only is she a great host but she can also act and has even sang a song for Egypt’s beloved actress and singer, Soaad Hosni, in one of Coca Cola’s most famous commercials where her lovely soul shined. Farah’s multi-talents have proven that she’s not just another pretty face; however, it seems like the media continues to judge her, like many others, on her looks only. And in an exclusive interview with Freesia, Lebanon’s upcoming Cinderella spoke all about her thoughts and worries about the media.
Which university did you study filmmaking at and why did you choose this particular field?
I studied filmmaking at Université Saint-Joseph de Beyrouth. There isn’t one specific thing that inspired me to study filmmaking; It’s everything! Filmmaking is such a powerful art, with moving frames that affect us like nothing else. Mainly seeing your ideas come to life. In most subjects, the closest you'll ever get to tell your ideas in real life will be an essay. While through filmmaking, you can produce and project visions that everyone can appreciate. In addition to exciting career opportunities, where meeting some of world's most beloved celebrities is part of your job. And what’s even more exciting, the ability to become one of them one day.
You have worked as a TV presenter, actress and even sang in a famous commercial. What encouraged you to go on screen? Which career would you like to pursue the most and why?
At first I was lost, I wasn't able to find out what I really wanted. So I decided to try everything I feel like trying so I know what to choose in the end. But I fell in love with the three, and now my goal is to combine singing, acting and TV presenting. I am walking up the stairs one step at a time, and I am happy with every project I participated in even if it was very small.
What problems are you worried might face you in the media?
The only problem that I am worried to face in the media or ever exist in media in general is limiting the freedom of speech; it’s an important human right which is essential for a society to be democratic. I can understand that at some point it needs to have limits and agree that it can also be restricted at some level when one person’s act violates the rights of another person or the values of society as a whole. An example of that is how in the Arab world, measures are taken against TV stations, or citizens for saying the truth about the governments’ and politicians’ bad performance; I understand that we live in a conservative society where people feel the need to set “limits” to freedom of speech, but this is another level of suppression.
A lot think that media chooses beauty over talent. Do you think it’s true?
Based on a personal experience, it is absolutely true, mostly in the Arab world. I personally prefer talent over beauty when it comes to film industry, simply because a movie needs an ACTRESS with skills that fits the role and not only a beautiful woman to attract the audience. That's why " Decision Makers" like producers and directors need to know that making a mivie is an ART which will remain forever, and not a platform to choose specific girls for personal interests. However, even I am still judged first and foremost by my looks. Nonetheless, I want to send a message to the aspiring actresses that beauty is a temporary thing but talent is a lifelong thing. In other words talent is a mind beauty, focus on your talent and improve your skills. Even beautiful women like Marilyn Monroe, Rita Hayworth, Monica Bellucci and Beyoncé became legends owing to their talents, not just their looks.
Define a TV presenter. Do you see someone in the Middle East who fits the description? If not, why?
A TV presenter is a person who has interest in the media industry, and not necessarily an audiovisual graduate; they must have the ability of attracting the audience and transferring messages through their performance on screen. And what’s the most important in my opinion is being transparent and real on screen, in order to create a connection with the other side of the screen.
I personally don’t look up to any Arab host in the Middle East because unfortunately most of them suffer from a disease called RATINGS. They only look up for scoops, and fame on other’s back. This kind of content make them barely known in their region, and their shows will absolutely have an expiry date.
Do you think the Arab media focuses too much on rather trivial things such as talent shows and neglect influential shows? If yes, why does it do so in your opinion?
Yes. It’s because TV audiences today are turning on their televisions to be entertained, and to be very quickly entertained and the success of reality shows is simply that you get instant emotion. This immediately increases the number of people who are watching, which will be indicated by the Ratings. And usually based on a show’s ratings, a sponsor decides if he will invest his money in the air time or not. So, when the owner of a TV station’s aim is just to gain money, he’ll only be interested in these kinds of shows.
How do you think the media affects the minds of the youth? Do you think that girls’ obsession with beauty is a product of the unrealistic beauty standards in the media?
I am noticing that these days, every young person wants to be famous through social media just for fame's sake without having a particular talent. This generation is growing up in a society that embraces the status of celebrity, even when some celebrities do not appear to actually do anything much.
I find this seriously dangerous, when young people put all their hopes and dreams into becoming famous for no particular talent, instead of focusing on a traditional career. Many seem to have lost both the ambition and the desire to work hard towards a credible goal. They think they can make it without the drive and determination, long hours and sacrifices made by those at the top. It’s a little scary, when an extremely large portion of kids would rather be Kim Kardashian and company, rather than the lawyers and the accountants that manage their brands.
In the midst of all the temptations of plastic surgeries, fillers, perfect models, etc., what do you advice young girls to do?
I want young girls to know that we have to fight against a culture that looks at our bodies before it even listens to what we are saying, if it listens at all. Do not fall to these types of messages on social media: “Strive for skinny,” “the bigger the better,” “flat abs are fab.” Don’t be fooled by Instagram models’ perfectly photoshopped pictures, because nobody is perfect. Do not choose plastic surgery to improve your selfies, instead keep your self-esteem high. You do not need to be “selfie-ready” at all times, you are beautiful just the way you are, because you are truly. Be unique. Be YOU.
Well, Farah has spoken her mind out, but do you agree. Do you think the Arab media’s time for change has come? Tell us in the comments!