Amid the seductive night, the cage door was open, and it fled to the garden, it’s the one to sing at night! “Cape pulled on her tight, and we walked gently through her shadows”… On actress Nadia Odeh!
Away from the neon glare of the metropolis and escaping into nature, we get absorbed in the breeze of the dusk, storming thoughts, and dark daringness journey that reflects a small fraction of incident light. We get lost in what’s black! The long cape, the stripes, the chiffon veil, and the dark shades have are reinvented to make a jaunty mood, casting its way through the secret garden.”Who stole my oranges,” widows of the village asks while Nadia romances her wild side and looks for the nightbird! My.Kali praises a voyage that is obscure.
Worded and directed by Khalid Abdel-Hadi
Sitting Editor Eliza Marks
Make-up by Sumaia Sabbagh
Digital Artwork by Ala’a S.
Earrings designed by Ahmad-Jad
Photographs by Rafic
“Show me, show me, show me…” Nadia yells eagerly in her cover shoot for My.Kali It’s in these moments that you get to see different sides of the person and learn more about them. There it was: the inner child that remains lively and innocent in Nadia’s heart. You feel it in each moment captured. It’s who she is: so vibrant, so alive and so spontaneous.
This is very unlike the images of her in these following pages, which show her look molded to convey our intended concept. She admits, “I never liked doing magazine work. It always feels like I’m marketing myself as if I were some kind of a product. But even though I do have this negative impression of it to a certain degree, I’m still doing it.”
So who is Nadia really? Magazines may find a clue or two, but we got the final take on this question: she has the allure of a laid-back woman, with elegant confidence that give her a dynamic energy. Nadia is like a humanistic revival of a classical artwork. She carries herself with honesty and individuality that challenges norms.
“3 spoons please,” Nadia responds as she rushes into the kitchen of my studio to help make her own coffee. The kid likes her coffee sweet! We return to the room, a Sade playlist playing in the background. She mentioned that she adores Sade while in make-up earlier that day, explaining, “I grew up on Sade. It reminds me so much of my university days, rehearsals, theater…” and charmingly humming along to her favorite Sade song, “By Your Side.”
The actress is standing comfortably in my studio office, admiring the décor that has been changed since our previous outdoor shoot. “I like what you’ve done with the space…it’s more breezy.” She just arrived from a meeting she had dreaded, her demeanor revealing that it had been a long day and she just feels like chilling. I oblige, and she asks coyly, “Is it OK to smoke in here?” I rush to crack a window as she lit her cigarette and began to take slow drags of it.
Nadia was quite hesitant and reserved during first interview with My.Kali. Did she want to step back into the limelight at a time of ignorance? Did she want to be part of the new change? It was not that she wasn’t accepting, but she saw the potential risk such an interview could cause her career. People advised her not to take the opportunity, to simply pass on it. Nadia reflected later that, “I was determined on my choice to go through it, even though I did think it was a risk… but I want to experience this with you and I would like to see how all of this will be presented. It [the shoot] was different from anything I’ve done. The magazine’s concept is very inspiring, something different, and I want to see myself in a new light, and I want to see myself in your perspectives. Rafic (aka; the Enchanted Fairy) as a photographer is very talented… I was so excited for the shoot, it’s theme, and the outcome was great.”
She gave herself almost completely to during the shoot, allowing us to shape her look and movements as it unfolded.
Often on a shoot, you can’t stop the subject from obsessively looking at the mirror and camera monitor. They worry about each shot, each pose. Nadia did reveal a minor need to control, but its source is not the expected vanity. She said that, “whenever the photographer gets excited on certain shots, it excites me, as well. I feel eager to sneak a peek to know how I’m doing, so I would continue what I’m told to do. I want to know that I’m doing my part right, because I would hate to fail.” She trusted the process, though, and did her bit beautifully. Nadia said, “I usually hate photo shoots. I don’t know what to do or how to act. I always feel weird through them, because they’re usually very blank.” This contrasts dramatically from our shoot, where we were playing some music, dancing around, and having her do funny gestures and expressions. She found this all amusing, saying that, “This is all so new for me! I never thought I’d be transformed into this very urban-cool image. This is fun and carefree.”
Her overall manner was so fresh! Rather than commenting on her makeup or complaining about the outfit or concepts, she entertained us with stories from the set of a movie she was shooting in northern Jordan while rubbing her arms for heat. She had fallen in love with this innocent foreign little girl, recounting that the girl had “made me a collage with my pictures, and gave it to me as a gift while filming. I remember that when I got her this kitty colors box as a gift later on, the first thing she did was share it with the poor girls from the village. It was so moving seeing that kind of selflessness in children. One day when I have a girl, I want her to be just like that.”
Jordan can get chilly in April days and May evenings, and as it got nippy inside, I suggest that she borrow my dad’s 70s vintage camel coat that I had arrived wearing (the one worn on the cover), which was hanging over the wooden chair in the room. She lays it over her shoulders and pulls its while collar toward her chest, commenting, “See, it looks great on you, but it looked so baggy on me. I don’t know how you pulled it off to make it look nice on me. It pops on you, though!” Even when wearing men’s clothes, she still manages to make them look so feminine and ultra stylish, unaware of her charm.
The proverbial “they” say that “the ones we dream of are the ones who walk away,” but I beg the differ. Not in Nadia Odeh’s case though: you can’t turn your face away from her presence, feeling a sort of liking or attraction to her. Is it a crush? Or is it the “ooh” she generates? Maybe it is the ooh; it’s the stuff that brightens the potential drabness of our lives, bringing drama, intrigue, humor and excitement to the everyday. Nadia did this in the early decade of her life through her dominating TV presence, and her we grew increasingly accustomed to her face. Jordan is in love!
Nadia has learned to inhabit her beauty and carry herself with heightened levels of confidence, which is evident whether you see her on TV, in an interview on MBC, or in a glossy magazine. She is no stranger to it: she has brilliant technique and style in performance, and the ability to transform herself into character as the job requires. She can even carry herself autocratically when need be. At one point I ask her if she thinks that her appearance had got her to where she is, or if it all be just another fainting notion of what the industry projects. She thoughtfully responds, “I do believe I’m pretty. I’m aware of that fact. But it wasn’t something I ever relied on to reach where I am today, or something I acted upon. I believe my looks got me certain roles that required that specific look, but everything I did is because I was able to do it, and because of the hard work and my determination.” She is more confident than ever before.
Aside from all the on-screen off-screen drama, Nadia knows her way to remain cool. She always has something to say, something to add, and is never restless, always composed. “As a person in the show business, I know that we’re not strangers to the public. People easily come up to us to chat. That is not the case for any other person. There are limits that people hold to, in general, when interacting. But for us, that line to some extent doesn’t exist: because people are “familiar” with us, they believe they know us. What I have discovered is that I am an extremely shy person. I still don’t believe people would come up to me and tell me how much they loved me in such and such… I feel that do people admire our work, and appreciate is, yet, I’m not good in being recognized.”
That’s the sort of person she is: she shies away from compliments, nods her head in approval, acts with sincerity and passion rather than haughtiness. Viva magazine described her as “refreshingly real”, and JO magazine called her to be “a class act.” She is. She’s the young and the restless, baring her soul and concealing only her flesh. She’s not the flashy type – that’s not her style.
I asked Nadia why she does not reveal lots of skin, even though that is the expectation of actresses as they appear in magazines and on television. She said that, “Over the years, people have respected me for being the decent kind, because I won’t reveal too much skin or over-expose myself in shoots or shows. I owe it to the public to maintain that image, and to not be disrespectful.”
Apart of her inspiring career, I was most interested in her personal views toward life and herself. In a country like Jordan, tradition dictates that girls should marry in their 20s, and even being unwed at 28 can be considered problematic. Nadia is in her early 30s and believes in her exception to this norm. She sticks by the choice she made in the beginning of her career, explaining, “I grew up in a family that had understood my determination on being an actress. I never felt I was on a rush. My career was my path and I married it for a long time. My family respected what I had chosen and supported me and my career, and I’m grateful to them for that. Plus, I never met the right person during that period, so I never felt I was missing out on anything…”
But does the exotic doll-face had her heart set yet? “Let’s say there’s someone in my life now, and he is the one,” she quips as she scrolls through her Blackberry and shows me pictures of her and “Mr. Right.” “I can’t deny that I have felt lonely at times, even weak, but I think that’s the human nature. Everybody at a certain point examines such emotions, and there’s nothing wrong with that.” She rests back against the sofa, sipping her coffee and warming her palms wrapped around her mug.
These are surprisingly mature reflections from someone so fresh-faced, but Odeh is an old soul, truly wise! We drift from subjects on personal politics to religion to other regional issues, and she seems to still caution against saying too much or bring too controversial, perhaps for fear that we might chastise her. Yet she also seems maintains her ease, confident with each answer she gave. She divulged, “I’m a big believer. As a Muslim person, I feel there’s this connection between me and God. I feel like I can talk to God anytime when I need him. I always ask God to protect my family and the close people around me. The word Al-hamdoulelah is the best word ever learned and used. Through it, I feel grateful. It’s such a simple word and promotes acceptance for to whatever you have. I don’t believe we’re born to suffer, I feel we’re born to do our part in good in this life, to shine. God gives this light that lets us shine.”
But be careful of the nightbird! Nadia isn’t closed minded, as many are fooled to believe. She has an open heart, an active and intellectual brain, independent and strong opinions, and continually seeks to break nagging stereotypes.
She bluntly states, “As I grew up, I learned to never judge. Today, I refuse to judge anyone, regardless of their ethnic, sexuality, religion, race, backgrounds. Acceptance is something that I carry in my heart. I mean, how could you judge people based on what they were born to be? I do know acceptance isn’t for everyone, and I know we live up to our societies’ and cultural standards, and I respect that as well. I don’t avoid those standards, but I work through them. I believe our society still holds to a lot of taboos, and I don’t think taboos are bad. The mystery of each that reveals itself through time. It’s exciting.” She has a clear idea of what she is referring to in her words.
Our interview is wrapping up, and she offers to help with the washing and cleaning up of the cookie-crumbs. She is ever polite, and although I’m tempted to accept, I decide that would be too much. She takes off the coat that has been resting on her shoulders to enter the much warmer outdoors.
It occurs to me, then, that Nadia has drawn a very clear line between her identity as an actress and her identity as the “normal” self: Nadia the friend, the sister, the daughter. She emparts that, “A lot of people confide in me. They feel safe telling me their stories and secrets and I don’t mind it. I feel that when someone lets out some of things that holds in their chest, they free a bit of themselves from the cage, and feel relieved. I like being that person, I like giving that relief to people, and to the people close to me.”
We like that person too!
The photographer’s word:
“As they say there’s always a first time for everything! And this was my first time to cooperate with My.Kali (a shoot that isn’t concerned about me at least!), stain and ruin my favorite converse shoes and also doing conceptual photography with local minds, let alone a superstar like “Nadia”! It was such a great experience to be honest. The concept we worked with was something I totally relate to, while we were on set it was the three of us, three young artists who felt the same. The passion to art and productivity, the relationship with our own city was in the air and lead the shoot along with Kali’s very clear vision, Nadia’s awesome charisma and beauty in front of the camera (what else would we need?)” – Rafic
Wishing our #covergirl, actress @NADIAODEH a #happybirthday! Have a wonderful happy, healthy #Bday and many more to come. Mean while a #tbt #ThrowBackThursday cover of the actress @mykali April 2011 #thursday #Lebanon #Jordan #Amman #UAE #Q8 #beirut #Iran #SaudiArabia #Saudi #Arab #OnlyForWomen #mykali #everydaymiddleeast #art #arab
#tbt Shoot 'Night Bird' of Jordanian actress Nadia Odeh for #MyKali's April/May 2011 issue. Photographed by @rafiquen , makeup by @sumisabbagh , art directed by Khalid Abdel-Hadi. #throwback #throwbackthursday #Jordan تصوير للمثلة الأردنية ناديا عودة لمجلة/منصة #ماي_كالي لعدد أبريل/مايو 2011. تصوير رفيق، مكياج سمية صباغ, إخراج خالد عبد الهادي. #ماي_كالي_بالعربي #الأردن