The same as any genuine success story, Dorra Zarrouk’s life was not devoid of challenges. To look down from above, she first had to look up with persistence no matter how difficult the path appeared, and hers was riddled with hardships and obstacles, yet, Zarrouk persevered. Through her journey, she remained as graceful as when the audience met her on stage for the first time. Her acting, already phenomenal, would only age well over the years. Now, she stands uncontested as the true queen of hearts–beautiful, elegant, and most importantly, strong.
“The way I see it; a strong person is not a superhero; they are not someone who never fails or makes mistakes. A strong person sometimes gets weak and falls, only to get up again and keep going. That’s the real strength.” Zarrouk told Soul Arabia.
As the breeze fluttered a few strands of her hair, the Tunisian actress spoke about the times she felt like it was over, and that she just couldn’t do it anymore. “I withstood this battle on my own, and conquered this feeling, and I still moved on with my career,” She confirmed.
Strength doesn’t come from things you can do. It comes from overcoming things you once thought you couldn’t, this quote shaped Zarrouk’s perspective on willpower, she added in her interview with Soul Arabia, “This is something I read once and I really believe. Anyone who can overcome their own challenges is a strong person. That’s what I’ve learned in my personal and professional life.”
Years after obtaining a university degree in political science, Zarrouk made her big acting debut in Egyptian cinema in 2007 with a role in Youssef Chahine’s “Heya Fawda”. The combination of her acting talent, gorgeous beauty and dominant charisma has made her become one of the most sought-after actresses on the scene. From that point on, Zarrouk grew to become a household name in the Arab world.
For Dorra Zarrouk, Self-improvement is not just a word thrown around; it’s an ongoing process. She doesn’t take her success for granted and continues to work on herself, always striving to be better. The 42-year-old icon has gone out of her way to deliver award-worthy performances every time she takes on a project. From her early beginnings in films such as “El Hob Kidah” and “Al Awila Fi Al Gharam” to her now more mature roles in “Godran” and “Al Motahama,” Zarrouk is constantly raising the bar.
“As a performer, you have to challenge your own limits by breaking molds and shattering expectations. To well advance, I have dared myself more than once by taking on roles I thought I would never do.” The actress revealed. Zarrouk is now starring in Shahid’s “Al Motahama,” a psychodrama that follows the unfolding of murder, false accusations, and foul play.
Fueling every character with an emotional depth is something Zarrouk is always keen to maintain, as she says of her new 10-episode series on Shahid platform: “Whenever I take on a new character, I have to be aware of all its multi-layers. What it wants to show and what it truly is. I don’t like flat characters, because they have to evolve as people do in real life. I truly believe people are so complex and they cannot be put into one mold or simplified.”
The life of a performer is not as easy as it might seem, the mental strain is enough to drain energy. Zarrouk gave us a glimpse into how she managed to protect herself both through her personal and professional life. “I’m not Wonder Woman. Even though I don’t show it, I’m a very sensitive person. I avoid revealing my deepest feelings because it might be seen as a sign of weakness or used by some people to their advantage. That’s why I always try to look strong,” added the Tunisian actress.
In search of her guiding force, Zarrouk has found her passion at home, as the mother-daughter duos are always a power to be reckoned with, “Women like my mother have inspired me to be iron-willed. She has been through a lot, yet she has always remained strong, independent, and doing the best she can”, Zarrouk says proudly.
“But, is being affectionate a sign of weakness?” we asked.
“Sensitive people aren’t weak, it’s just a part of being human. Honestly, I think sensitivity is a kind of strength because it means you have empathy, provided we don’t let emotions cloud our judgment. If we want to protect ourselves and make rational decisions, I think we can sometimes tame some of those feelings.” Zarrouk replied, setting the record straight, and added: “As celebrities, we are constantly placed in tough situations. Millions of audiences judge us every day. Whereas ordinary people only show their emotions in front of their loved ones, sometimes performers are forced to do so publicly. And being that vulnerable takes strength.”
The line between strength and weakness is subjective. The definitions alter from one person to the other. Dorra Zarrouk believes that sometimes we could put down our shields and get hurt, but that wouldn’t make us weak. “Dealing with all of life’s situations and protecting yourself indicates that you are a strong person. To me, weakness is when people don’t fight for themselves. And that’s where I draw the line. A strong person stands up for what’s right, no matter the consequences”, she explained.
For most people, beauty is a blessing, but some argue that it can also be a curse. In 2012, Zarrouk was named the most beautiful woman in Tunisia, but through her journey, this beauty caused her pain. “Beauty inside and out is a blessing, but sometimes people have wrong impressions of beautiful women. They are often misjudged and, unfortunately, better known for their looks than characters, which remain vague to most people.” The actress revealed, adding, “Some people think that a beautiful woman doesn’t deserve to be successful, smart or even kind.”
As the world heads toward, perhaps, a bleaker future, with climate change threatening all we hold dear. The Tunisian actress revealed how concerned she is about the current situation. “I may not be an activist, but I realize how serious this cause is. Taking care of the God-given land is the most meaningful thing we can do. We all live on the same planet and breathe the same air,” she continued. “Personally, I try as much as I can to be more aware and follow eco-friendly habits in my daily life.”
While modern technology has made life much easier, Zarrouk worries it may take more than it gives. The star revealed that there are some drawbacks, referring to bullying, which is another thing she’s concerned about because it has gotten worse over the years as a direct result of advanced technology.
Although she supports many causes, such as those related to women or humanitarian like refugee issues, Zarrouk believes that social media does not differentiate between those who are already aware of these causes and those who do not have enough information to express their opinions, she explains: “As I’ve noticed, there are still some people who aren’t aware. Not everyone is well-informed. So I think it’s our responsibility to spread awareness and enable people to speak up.”
Statistics show that women in the Arab world are subjected to violence disproportionately more than any other segment, and with the escalation of crimes against women, Dorra has the following to say: “With these incidents, we have come to realize the true public opinion towards women. We have a long way to go until we are mature enough to deal with women’s issues or make real change.”
“I can’t live without hope, it’s part of my conviction. I may be a dreamer and a romantic person, but I’m also a realist and an optimist, and I can’t pretend to know more than I do. I think all we can do is at least try to take care of the world as it is now, as much as we can,” she concluded.
Dorra Zarrouk is as strong as she is dependable, yet her strength does not come from nonchalance but rather from her vulnerability, empathy, and determination to persevere in the face of all adversity. She remains one of the most beloved actresses in the Arab world for exactly these reasons.