“One of my proudest moments is that the song charted in the top 100 in the U.S.,” Faydee said. “For me that was a surreal thing that the Arabic-English version (of the song) got the most recognition.”
“I want Arabic music to be as accepted as Spanish music is in the pop culture,” he added.
Faydee said his parents initially disapproved of his plans to be a singer, telling him to pursue other careers that were “more tangible.” However, when they realized the talent that their son had, they turned into his biggest supporters.
“For them, the proudest they were of me is when I accepted an award from the Beirut (& Beyond) International Music Festival,” he said. “Seeing me receive an award from the place they grew up was big.”
In the future, Faydee wants to venture into acting and continue to expand his brand by making new Arab-Western fusion music often.
Listen to his single Habibi Albi featuring Leftside by clicking the link below:
Darine Hamze is one of the most well well-known daring actresses in the Middle East. She is known for taking on diverse and courageous roles on Lebanese TV shows and movies.
Darine spoke exclusively with Lebanese Examiner about what drives her everyday and the causes that keep her going.
How did you get started in the acting?
I was first introduced to acting during my early elementary boarding school days, at Sabis Ashwicke Hall, England, UK, when I was 8 years old. There I participated in all school plays and first discovered my love for acting. Which naturally lead to me studying drama acting and cinema in University and my MA was also cinema in the University of Westminster, UK.
What are some causes in Lebanon that you are passionate about?
Funny you ask that, since I have just founded an NGO called “Ibram” with a group of friends and family that works on crime prevention and youth empowerment. It is actually a kind of tribute to my father’s memory, since he was brutally murdered by (thieves) on the streets of Beirut. And I feel it is my responsibility now to follow up on this cause since it is very personal.
As you travel all across the world, what do you think of the Lebanese diaspora outside of Lebanon?
It saddens me actually to think of it, since separation is always hard experience to live. My brother is one of them, and I think almost every Lebanese family now has a son, or father or husband or daughter living abroad to find better living means. Unfortunately this hs been happening for many many years now, maybe it is the Lebanese’s destiny since our Phoenician ancestors.
What are some current or future projects you are working on that your fans should look forward to?
I have a new series that will be screening starting 2019, and am preparing for a new movie. There is also a lot of activities that I will be participating in for our NGO Ibram in Lebanon.
What would you like to say to the younger generation, that consider you a role model?
I say to them, follow your heart and intuition. Be true to yourselves, be creative and never compromise for your integrity cause that is what you will have at the end of your path. And do good not wrong, and be kind as much as you can, and stay courageous when things get bad around you, but know it is only a phase and everything passes.
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Florida voters have sent a Lebanese American woman to Congress — a 5-foot-tall powerhouse Democrat who beat out a Latino Republican in a hotly contested Midterm race.
Donna Shalala, 77, is the second Lebanese American woman to hold a seat in U.S. Congress. The first was Ohio congresswoman Mary Rose Oakar, who served from 1977 to 1993.
Shalala is arguably one of the most qualified freshman members of Congress. She previously served as U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services under President Bill Clinton, and as president of the University of Miami from 2001 to 2015.
The political veteran and fierce Trump critic beat her Republican opponent Maria Elvira Salazar with 51.7 percent of the vote.
“Mr. President, ready or not here we come,” Shalala told supporters during a victory speech in Florida. “Tonight I want you to hear a message of unity.”
Shalala was born in Cleveland to a Maronite Catholic Lebanese family — the daughter of Edna Smith and James Abraham Shalala. Her mother, a prominent Ohio attorney, practiced law for 50 years before retiring at age 91.
Her mother is recognized in Ohio as the first female attorney of Lebanese descent to practice law in Cleveland. Shalala, who will serve a large Latino population in her district, told NBC News she has an “extensive network of cousins throughout Latin America.”
“Lebanon has a long history of migration to the Americas, so while her grandparents settled in Miami at the turn of the century, their brothers and sisters settled in Cuba, Brazil, and Mexico,” NBC News reported.
Shalala will be sworn in Jan. 3 in Washington, D.C.
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The year 2018 has been phenomenal for Lebanese comedian Esther Manito. She had the opportunity to perform at the United Arab Emirates’ largest theatre, the Dubai Opera, and was a contributor to the book “Donʹt Panic, Iʹm Islamic.”
The UK-based comedian spoke exclusively with Lebanese Examiner about her career and the challenges she faced to achieve her success.
How did you get started in comedy, and how did you grow so fast?
I started doing comedy when my son was 7-months-old. I did a comedy course, I had no idea I would continue to do stand up. The last two years has been a whirlwind. I have worked incredibly hard to take as many opportunities as possible.
What are some obstacles you think you have faced in the industry, both personally and professionally?
Well, doing stand-up comedy when you are a mother to two very small children is physically demanding. However, I feel I am more fulfilled which has made me a better mom. In terms of comedy you will always find you are battling stereotypes as female comic, but especially as a female comic that talks about her Arab roots.
Lebanese American actress and model Jamie Gray Hyder is best known for her role as Lt. Nora Salter — a Lebanese character — in the video game Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare.
In an interview with Lebanese Examiner, Gray Hyder talked about her Lebanese upbringing, and her successful career in television, movies and video games.
How did you get started in movies, TV and voice acting?
I have been performing on stage since I was very young, and was a classically trained singer for many years. After getting my degree in Theatre and Film Studies, I moved to Los Angeles and began working in film, TV, and video games.
How has the Lebanese culture and upbringing influenced your success?
My Lebanese father has always instilled a good work ethic in me. He has also promoted the idea of balance, meaning work some, play some, which I think has contributed greatly. The Lebanese culture appreciates good food and drinks, which has always fueled my love of food. I was the only 9 year old I knew eating kibbeh nayeh!
Did either of these have any influence in accepting your role in Call of Duty?
When given the opportunity to represent my Lebanese roots as Lt Salter, I was so excited! There aren’t many roles written for Middle Eastern actresses, so I jumped at the chance. I think it’s important to represent well-rounded characters with diverse life experience, and to move away from archetypes and caricatures.
What are some current or future projects that your fans can look forward to?
I am currently doing the voice for the character Zethrid, in the Dreamworks animated series Voltron (you can find it on Netflix!). Voicing animated characters is one of my favorite types of work to do! You get the chance to play characters very different from yourself, which is always fun.
What are some of your hobbies/interests outside of the entertainment industry?
I love to eat and drink and cook anything and everything I can get my hands on. I grew up eating my sittoo’s hummus, tabouleh, baklava, rice, you name it. I have always had a healthy appetite. That goes hand in hand with my love of travel. I went to Japan earlier this year, and I was in food paradise! A food tour of Lebanon is next on my list.
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As a young girl growing up, actress Shannon Elizabeth always maintained close ties to Lebanese culture. After all, her parents belonged to a local Lebanese-Syrian club in Waco, Texas, and building a strong community bond was central to the family.
“I was really proud of that side of my life,” Elizabeth told Lebanese Examiner. “To be able to experience the food and the culture for me was something I felt a lot of people were missing out on.”
The actress – best known for her iconic roles in American Pie, Scary Movie and American Reunion – was born to a Lebanese/Syrian father and mother of English, Irish and German descent. She says she was always closest to the Lebanese side of the family.
“I remember going to my grandparents’ house quite a bit and it was always about cooking and Lebanese food,” she said. “I would get into the kitchen with my grandmother and help make Syrian bread.”
Elizabeth now maintains a non-profit animal rescue organization in Cape Town, South Africa called Animal Avengers. She started the organization in 2001 to help in the global effort in saving animals from going extinct.
Ironically, one of her favorite foods growing up was kibbeh nayyeh, or minced raw lamb or beef mixed with fine bulgur and spices. Now, her favorite Lebanese dishes are limited to vegetarian options like grape leaves and falafel.
“My relatives don’t understand it,” she joked. “There are a lot of great things that don’t have meat; it’s just about exploring it.”
Elizabeth initially started her organization as a dog and cat rescue, but expanded to South Africa after learning of the global poaching crisis. Through crowdfunding, she raised $30,000 – and the rest is history.
“I loved the people (of South Africa), I loved the culture and I felt like I was closer to the issues here,” she added. “I felt like there was more that I could be doing with my platform.”
Although she is still active in the film industry, Elizabeth said she is dedicated to her organization, which could soon start work in the Middle East. In fact, she already helped sponsor a lion from Lebanon.
“There is a Lion that was rescued that I was told was originally from the Middle East,” she said. “I did a lifetime sponsorship for him to help pay for his expenses.”
She said she still has many connections in Hollywood, and hopes to someday build connections in Beirut.
“I would love to go to Beirut because that’s where our ancestors are from,” she added. “I’m waiting for the right opportunity, but it is very high on my list to get out there very soon.”
On TV, Kevin O’Leary is a staunchly money-driven businessman known for his big investments and blunt off-the-cuff remarks. But when the cameras are off, the multimillionaire is a proud family man who has passed down his Lebanese values to his children.
O’Leary is best known for his role in the ABC television series Shark Tank, where he is one of five ‘shark’ investors who listen to entrepreneur pitches and choose whether or not to invest in their startups. He is also the co-founder of the billion-dollar tech company SoftKey Software Products.
The Canadian-born businessman was raised by an Irish salesman father and Lebanese businesswoman mother. He spoke candidly to Lebanese Examiner about his rapid success in the world of business, and how his Lebanese values still carry on to this day.
“Lebanese culture is one of the most successful entrepreneurial cultures on earth,” O’Leary says. “I’m very proud to say that because it’s true.”
All In the Family Business
Growing up, O’Leary was surrounded by business and hard work. His grandfather immigrated to Montreal, Canada from Hasbaya, Lebanon and built a successful clothing manufacturing company called Kiddie Togs.
“That’s how I learned family values, and I think those things are very important,” O’Leary says. “You don’t realize that until you get older. The work ethic in Lebanese families is legendary.”
O’Leary’s mother, aunts and uncle all worked hard to keep the family business running, but they always made time for family. His mother Georgette Bookalam died in 2008, and her sons credit their successes to her teachings.
“My mother Georgette was one of the most influential people in my career,” O’Leary says. “To this day, her wisdom and advice guide me in almost every business choice I make.”
The O’Leary home valued family. Sunday dinners were an important part of his life growing up, and it started a special tradition that continues today.
“I remember every Sunday if you didn’t show up for dinner that (my grandmother) prepared all day long, you would burn down in perpetuity,” he says. “I appreciate that because I have those same rules now. I try to get my family together no matter where we are every Sunday to keep that tradition going.”
O’Leary once lived in Cyprus, and would visit Beirut often in the sixties before troubles broke out in the region. His experience in global investments have taken him around the world – and he always finds a Lebanese friend with an incredible business story.
“Lebanese are very smart investors,” he says. “If you go to any city in the world, you’re going to find that the core Lebanese community is very successful. Very often, they own all the real estate in town and lots of different businesses.”
Through his travels, he always finds a good Lebanese meal, too.
“It’s no surprise to me when I go to South America, Cambodia, Europe, wherever, I always go for a good meal,” he says. “I look for a good Lebanese restaurant.”
The entrepreneurial spirit flows through the Lebanese blood, he adds. Today, when he lectures at universities all over North America, he shares these stories with American and Canadian students.
“Some of us are born to create wealth, and others are meant to work there,” O’Leary says. “That’s just the way it is. They are both noble pursuits, but Lebanese have built businesses, they take risks and they support their families – they have a cultural disposition to do that.”
O’Leary believes his grandmother and mother played a central role in his career. He calls them “powerful matriarchs,” and says they exist in every Lebanese family.
“I’m a big supporter of women entrepreneurs – women are very good at business,” he adds. “I think the Lebanese culture was one of the first to support the concept of matriarchal values.”
These values, he says, are part of his career decisions, every day.
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