Saoirse Ronan, Oscar veteran at 23, laughs off her chances

Saoirse Ronan arrives for the British Academy of Film and Television Awards (BAFTA) at the Royal Albert Hall in London, Britain, February 18, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 20 February 2018
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Saoirse Ronan, Oscar veteran at 23, laughs off her chances

PARIS: Saoirse Ronan is not like other Hollywood stars.
Spread out on a sofa in a luxury Paris hotel in a “Mary Magdalene, sorry Maggie Marilyn” pyjama suit looking like a vamp from “The Great Gatsby,” she is joking about her bad skin.
The sideburns of acne she has in “Lady Bird,” the acclaimed coming-of-age movie that has won her a third Oscar nomination at the age of 23, were very much her own, she laughed.
“No, they were real!” she told AFP. “I had a bad skin at the time so we just didn’t cover it up.
“Weirdly I never got bad skin as a teenager at all,” said the Irish actress, who was first nominated for an Academy Award when she was only 13 for “Atonement.”
“It was only when I was 21 or 22 when I was doing loads of press that I got it. So, it was you that did it,” she laughed.
Ronan is often talked about as one of the most talented actors of her generation — she won a best actress Golden Globe last month for “Lady Bird,” her “sensational” portrayal of a Sacramento teenager in the last year of high school whose lofty ambitions are often at odds with reality and her family’s precarious finances.
She is also one of the most down-to-earth, seemingly unphased by having grown up in front of the camera as a child actor from the age of eight.
“My Mam came away with me on every job till I was 18, and my Dad is an actor, so they understood the pitfalls.”
Even so, “going through puberty on screen can very easily be terrifying. You are so aware of what you look like, and to have a lens pointed at your face,” she told AFP as she promoted “Lady Bird” in the French capital.
“So you have to have the attitude that it is more important to get what you are doing right than worry whether you look pretty.”
Doing good work has been Ronan’s watchword since she was very young, carefully choosing quality films rather than playing the fame game.
“I was offered an action film at the same time as ‘Atonement’ (when she was 12) but I knew even then that was not the direction I wanted to go in,” she said.
She was a more obvious choice to play an Irish immigrant in “Brooklyn,” and Ronan insisted that hooking up with indie star Greta Gerwig for her directorial debut on “Lady Bird” was also a “no-brainer.”
“When you read a script where one of the introductory scenes is someone arguing with their mother and jumping out of a car it is a massive selling point. With Greta I knew it would be smart, interesting and funny,” she said.
Gerwig, who made her name both writing and starring in “Frances Ha” and “Mistress America” with director Noah Baumbach, said it was a marriage made in heaven.
Even though the film is semi-autobiographical, Gerwig said she didn’t really “understand the character until (Ronan) started saying the lines... she is this flawed but amazing heroine.”
And for her part, Ronan said she cried when Gerwig was nominated for an Oscar. Incredibly it was only the fifth time that a woman had been nominated for best director.
“She deserves it so much. It was a really momentous thing for the times we are in to have at least one woman nominated and completely deservedly. That means a lot to all of us,” said Ronan.
In terms of empowerment, “getting to play a confident teenage girl” also mattered hugely, she said.
“It’s so rare to see a teenage girl just own it in a film — someone who just goes for it and isn’t afraid to fall on their face. There is a strength and a bravery you can catch from that person.”
Ronan is acutely conscious that “Lady Bird” has already become a key cultural reference for many teenage girls.
“She is quite outspoken which I am too. She is trying to find her people and her places. When I was around 18 I knew (like her that) I needed to get out and find who I was.
“Like Greta and Lady Bird I wanted to go to New York. I was only there eight months but it was enough to say, ‘I’ve found myself!’” she laughed.
As for finally lifting an Oscar next month at the third attempt, Ronan insists that she “hasn’t thought about winning. When you win you have to do all the press afterwards, and you don’t get a chance to have a dance. So it is also quite nice losing because you can enjoy the night.”


Winners of prestigious photography award announced at Riyadh forum

Colors of Arabia held an event to honor artists in Riyadh. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 14 December 2018
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Winners of prestigious photography award announced at Riyadh forum

  • Colors of Arabia forum held under the patronage of SCTH President Prince Sultan bin Salman

RIYADH; The Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) has announced the winners of the Prince Sultan Bin Salman Photography Award in four categories.
Winners of the prestigious award, which was launched to recognize budding talent and efforts to highlight the Kingdom’s heritage, received SR300,000 each and shields at a ceremony held at the Colors of Arabia forum under the patronage of Prince Sultan bin Salman, SCTH president.
The forum, which is being held at Riyadh’s International Convention and Exhibition Center, spans 15,000 square meters and is expected to have attracted 30,000 visitors by the time it ends on Sunday.
The award for the “pioneers” category, which recognizes the work of Saudis who have successfully contributed to the development of local artists, was won by a photographer in Hafr Al-Batin who began capturing day-to-day life in the Eastern Province city at only 12 years of age. The work of Jarallah Al-Hamad is now used in government brochures.
The award in the “literature and publications” category, which was open to contenders of any nationality both within and outside the Kingdom, recognizes photographers who have captured shots for publications and the film industry. Amin Al-Qusayran, a photographer and graphic designer from Madinah who began pursuing his passion 15 years ago, had previously won two awards in recognition of his work. Al-Qusayran is also author of a pictorial book shedding light on the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah.
The “civilized heritage” category, meanwhile, was open to photographers from around the globe seeking to preserve world heritage through the power of image.
The award for this category was jointly won by two photographers of Arab descent. Mohamed Bouhsen, from Bahrain, had left university to document national heritage in his country and the Arabian Peninsula at large. He won the award alongside Jalal Al-Masri, an Egyptian photographer who has taken part in 133 local, Arab and international exhibitions.
The STCH also announced the winners of the photo and short film awards in seven categories.
Mazen Flamban, who won the award in the “cultural heritage” category, expressed his surprise and joy at having had his work recognized.
“My ambition is to revive Hijazi heritage through my lens,” Flamban told Arab News. “This was the first year I joined the competition. My photo depicts an old woman who lives alone as she reminisces over old photos.”