The actor, model, social-media star and former Miss Lebanon on gender equality, connections, and staying grounded.
When I was around 10, living in Canada, I got cast for a Disney Channel TV show. But my dad didn’t want me to go to Los Angeles — he wanted me to finish my education. And once that was done, he said, he’d support me going into an acting career. Which is essentially what I did. I lost my father when I was 16 years old, so I wanted to give him this back. It was a way of paying tribute, and showing him that I’m fulfilling his wishes.
I feel lucky every day. I have a really loyal fanbase and they’re the reason I’m here today. Every morning, when I wake up and have something to do — an event, or an awards ceremony — it’s because of them, because I connected with them and made them feel something one day.
Having your feet on the ground — being down-to-earth and modest — is one of the most beautiful characteristics that someone in this field can have. A lot of people, when they meet me, say they’re surprised that I’m actually nice. They feel that because I’ve reached a certain level of success, I could get away with being mean, or arrogant.
Stay true to yourself. If you try to act like somebody you’re not, or try to copy another person, then people will never believe that you’re credible in any kind of way.
I have no regrets. I know that’s cheesy. But I believe everything I’ve been through is for a reason. I believe in God’s plan, and I believe that if something is meant for me, it’s going to happen. So the negatives and the positives built who I am today.
My proudest moment was (competing in) Miss Universe in 2015. I was 19, I had no experience, and I was put on the spot in a very dramatic way — every day I’d face some backlash about my body or the way I walk or the way I act. It was very hard to have all that negative energy directed towards me. But I decided to let myself ignore the negatives and really breathe in the positive. That’s when I felt, ‘I can actually do this.’
Men and women are equals. We have a voice. We need to speak up and share our experiences. Women think with our minds *and* our hearts. And that’s a beautiful thing.