RIYADH: MBC Studios has started production of the Saudi fantasy series “Rise of the Witches” with an all-local cast and crew.
The high-end production division of the MBC Group stated that it is producing the show based on a novel by Saudi author Osamah Al-Muslim. The series is set in ancient Arabia and tells the story of an epic war between two rival witch covens.
One of the lead Saudi actresses in the series is Ida Al-Kusay, who has worked in feature films, series and theater.
In an interview with Arab News, she spoke about her journey in the acting world, which started in 2019, and her present work.
Al-Kusay studied clinical psychology at King Saud University in Riyadh, then double majored in marketing and American Sign Language at Emerson college.
“I was always obsessed with sign language. The culture of sign language, how to be appropriate, how to be nice, helped me a lot with my acting because you learn how to express yourself not just with words but with body language, with your eyes, with your facial expressions,” Al-Kusay said.
Al-Kusay was nominated as best actress in her first feature film “Junoon,” which was released on Oct. 27 at the London Film Festival 2021.
Talking about her character, Al-Kusay said: “When you shoot horror films, you need to get into the mentality of the character. I play the character of Jiji, a fashionista, and I lived her character. I got into the emotional and mental state of Jiji. I didn’t know the right way as an actress to leave the character when they said ‘Cut.’”
She added: “They’re saying, ‘Cut,’ but for me, I’m still acting and I’m going into something very traumatic. So, the minute they said, ‘Cut,’ I could not stop. I was still there, living the trauma. But it’s a good thing I won an award for it.”
Al-Kusay is among a handful of Saudi actresses who underwent stunt training as she feels that it adds to her list of credentials.
“It’s not easy to learn all the fight movements with swords and spears, but it’s so nice and empowering. It requires a lot of physical effort that I’m not always ready for, but it’s testing me, and I feel like I want to take this step to move forward into the stunt world,” she said.
“Not everyone is prepared to do roles that have a lot of physical movements and fights. I want to have that,” she said.
Al-Kusay believes there is a great future for the film industry in the Kingdom, and more people should consider acting as a career.
“The industry is blooming, and I’m so happy with everything that’s happening now in Saudi Arabia. It’s so beautiful because I feel like, at this moment, we are creating history.”