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Guest Feature: Yasmine Al Massri
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I am geeked to share something super cool with you all!
My friend and former professor, Dr. William Youmans, has been working on this incredible archive of Arab American TV, a Los Angeles-based news and media syndicate that produced a bilingual, magazine-style television program from 1980-2005.
The collection includes about 4000 videos on obsolete tape formats, hundreds of audio cassettes, and 20 boxes of documents. The tapes are programs, as well as raw footage of events, interviews, commercials, and social life. It also includes a wealth of imported videos from the region, mainly films and television.
Okay friends, let’s get right into it. I am so excited to introduce this week’s guest feature: Yasmine Al Massri!
Yasmine is an international actress and a supporter of human rights activists whose roles stand out nationally and internationally thanks to her talent in carefully choosing stories and characters that are unconventional and underrepresented on screen, Pressbook . From a Palestinian father and an Egyptian mother, Yasmine was born and raised in Lebanon, then moved to Paris at the age of 20 to study. There she graduated from the prestigious L'Ecole des Beaux-Arts de Paris in multimedia and live performances. She enjoys leading the way to women of her generation by breaking the cliches of representation of Arab female characters whether on TV or Film. She works and lives between Los Angeles, Paris, and Beirut.
Yasmine is the first Middle Eastern actress to star in a series of critically acclaimed award-winning films, such as Nadine Labbaki's Caramel, The Last Friday, Pomegranates and Myrrh, and Julian Schnabel's Miral starring alongside Vanessa Redgrave, Hiam Abbass, Frieda Pinto, and William Dafoe (here's the link to her demo reel).
In addition to her success in major films, Yasmine starred in ABC's hit show Quantico with her breakout role as Arab-American FBI twins. Here is her reel from Quantico. Yasmine also starred in ABC's Crossbones alongside John Malkovitch, as ''Selima El Sharad'.' Here's the link to her Crossbones reel.
Today, Yasmine continues to pursue subjects that are relevant in bringing global awareness to the world we live in. She guest starred in one of Law and Order's most acclaimed episode tackling the Harvey Weinstein scandal. Yasmine also played the first Middle Eastern lesbian vampire in Netflix's top animation show Castelvania.
Yasmine is currently developing scripts as a co-writer and producer. Her projects will portray female characters from the Arab world and the Middle East whose lives and journeys happen in international cities around the world. She also strives to push different projects that represent the Arab world in Hollywood and Europe through Uncensored Narratives, a creative lab and platform that she founded last year.
Needless to say, my friends, it is a massive honor to have Yasmine here to share some of her go-to music with us — and let me tell you, it truly reflects her humanity and her life experiences beautifully:
1. What is your favorite song right now?
Don't laugh at me, but I am obsessed with “Bent El Geran” at the moment. I know many people have criticized this kind of music in Egypt, but I think there is something about it that's underground, gritty — I like it, makes me wanna dance.
2. What’s your go-to song for all your feels?
I listen to classical piano for all my feels from Bach, Beethoven, Schubert, Debussy — it absorbs my thoughts without overstimulating, distracting, or overwhelming me. I repeat a lot — “Consolations, S.172:No. 3, Lento Placido” by Franz Liszt and Khatia Buniatishvili.
3. Name a song that reminds you of home.
“Helwa Ya Baladi” by Dalida and every song by The Trio Joubran. When I arrive to Cairo or Jordan or Beirut I always ask the driver to play “Helwa Ya Baladi” — I put my head out of the window, feel the wind, and know I am home. And when I am in LA missing home, I play the song and I feel the air and the smell of these streets immediately. Trio Joubran music takes me to my Palestine, I feel the old big white stones of old houses in Yaffa, Haifa, Jerusalem, Ramallah — and their CD with Mahmoud Darwish poetry is just a treat.
4. Name a song you know all the words to.
“La vie en rose” by Edith Piaf. I did a musical theatre workshop at the London School of Speech and Drama one summer and worked on this song! That's the only reason I know all the words to an entire song, I usually never do.
5. Name a song that gets you really hype and ready to go.
“Magalenha” by Sergio Mendes — this just puts fire in my hips.
And Tina Turner’s ''The Best'' — her voice and passion just gets my heart and my body going!
Big shout out to Yasmine for joining and sharing her song selections! All of Yasmine’s songs will be included in this week’s playlist, so be sure to take a listen. Be sure to check out all of the incredible movies and TV shows starring Yasmine, and follow her on Instagram and Twitter!
What I’m Listening To
🎧 Middle Eastern, North African, & Diaspora Flows 🎧
Ana Hon - Tayar
Alatif - RYM
Moulana - Phobia Isaac
Poison - Bea Kadri
00:00 - Lartiste
7 Snin - Samara
Sanam - Abyusif featuring Ismail Nosrat
Close - Xena Aouita
Taqa - Swani
Hala Walla - DJ Bliss featuring Shaggy, Flipperachi, and Daffy
🎤 Latinx & Hispanic Vibes 🎤
Tierra de Promesas (Sierra Nevada) - Maréh featuring Jósean Log
Sugar Boi - Immasoul
DIME QUIÉN???? - Rauw Alejandro
Mata Hari - Raina
Mala Eligiendo - Amenazzy
Bruja - IRIA M featuring Factoria Chakataga
La Recata de los Ponkesitos - Irepelusa
Noche de Travesura - Hector “El Father”
Rebelión - ChocQuibTown
Éxtasis - Manuel Turizo featuring Maria Becerra
🎼 Other Good Music 🎼
No Closure - Mannywellz
11:30 - Duckwrth
Stacey - Chloe featuring Shute
Lift Me Up - Rihanna
On Fire - Lloyd Banks
BABYDOLL - Ari Abdul
Cape - Suzy
24’s - JBee
KU LO SA - Oxlade
Build Me A House - RIMON featuring Tiggs Da Author
What I’m Reading
🇱🇧 Lebanon 🇱🇧
LGBTQI+ in Lebanon: An ‘alarming and shocking picture’ of virtually erased lives - Farah-Silvana Kanaan, L’Orient Today
According to an in-depth study released this month by the non-profit organization Legal Action Worldwide, LGBTQI+ individuals in Lebanon remain one of the most marginalized and excluded groups in society.
In Lebanon, a call for help costs too much - Dario Sabaghi, The New Humanitarian
With costs up as much as 600%, how many people in need of urgent assistance are falling through the cracks?
Lebanon: Iraqi tourists provide unlikely boost for failing economy - Anna Foster, BBC News
"Even in Iraq we don't have electricity. And the people are tired, they need to relax and unwind. So they come here."
Meet the Pop Icons Who Inspired a Generation of Arab Queens - Shane O’Neill, The New York Times
A look at the TV stars of Lebanon and the larger Arab world that have influenced a burgeoning drag scene in Beirut.
Memorial or demolition? Fate of Beirut port silos still hangs in the balance - Mohamed El Chamaa, L’Orient Today
The northern block of port silos collapsed this summer after a weeks-long fire. What will happen to the silos that remain standing? The answer isn’t so simple.
🌍 Middle East, North Africa, & Diaspora 🌎
Iran's protesters find inspiration in a Kurdish revolutionary slogan - Seyma Bayram and Diba Mohtasham, NPR
"Jin, jiyan, azadi!" — "Woman, life, freedom!" — has become the rallying cry for people in Iran and beyond who are protesting the death of Jina Mahsa Amini in Iranian police custody.
Yemen’s future conflicts will be over water - Niku Jafarnia, Al Jazeera
“Ravaged by war, the country is also running out of water. That is leading to local conflicts that could grow.”
Making the decision to leave Gaza is harder than some would think - Rana Shubair, Mondoweiss
Many of Gaza’s youth decide to leave the open-air prison. But many of those who leave end up alienated or refugees. But sometimes to realize the value of your homeland, you have to leave it.
No place for the environment in Egypt’s North Coast - Mohamed Ezz, Mada Masr
What was once a paradise is turning into a swamp.
Sudan’s hidden resistance: ‘The day that can no longer wait’ - Nada Wanni, Al Jazeera
“To assess Sudan’s appetite for a democratic, civilian state through street protests alone would be a mistake.”
🎶 Music, Arts, & Culture 🎶
Once a stigmatized dance form, ‘raqs sharqi’ makes a comeback in Lebanon - Tamara Saade, L’Orient Today
“I really hope to see this form of dance or any art related to our culture, may it be the music or dance, included in school education properly.”
Oxlade’s ‘Ku Lo Sa’ is Big. He’s Thinking Bigger - Mankaprr Conteh, Rolling Stone
“I'm trying to be one of the biggest Afrobeats exports, and it's not just by one song,” says the singer
Morocco’s Mr. ID Opens Up About His Work and What We Can Expect From Him Next - Yassine Harris, Mille World
The Casablanca DJ talks about his music, his style, and how he got started.
‘It is the memory of the people’: unpacking Iraq’s artistic heritage - Simona Foltyn, The Guardian
Culture ministry puts artworks on display once again after destruction and theft wrought by successive conflicts.
The Case for Listening to Complete Discographies - Colin Marshall, The New Yorker
In a world of obscene musical abundance, a listener needs a strategy.
📚 Other Reads 📚
Some Salem residents haunted by Halloween - James Sullivan, The Boston Globe
While there are those who are sweet on October crowds, others get spooked when their hometown turns into the Witch City.
A Newfound Will to Live - Anonymous, New Lines Magazine
“How depression, isolation and cultural taboos almost pushed me over the edge and how I nursed my way back to health.” (*Content Warning: this story intimately discusses suicide and self-harm)
How Marcus Smart’s support for cancer patients transformed children’s hospitals - Jared Weiss, The Athletic
When visiting a patient’s room, Smart gets deja vu. The beeping equipment, IV drips, the linoleum floors, it’s all familiar.
The high school teacher turned lawyer accused of being a fixer for the Mexican Mafia - Matthew Ormseth, Los Angeles Times
Federal prosecutors say Gabriel Zendejas Chavez, a criminal defense attorney who once taught English, connected the Mexican Mafia’s bases of power in prisons, jails and the streets of Southern California.
How Elon Musk Could Actually Kill Twitter - Charlie Warzel, The Atlantic
There’s more than one way to sink a social network.