WINGING IT AT CANNES
On acting and elbow-rubbing with the stars
T he Cannes film festival is known as being a manic, hectic affair. Raya Abirached is busier than most at the glamorous, invite-only event on the French riviera. An interview with the Scoop With Raya host is a date in the diary for many big names in the industry, from Martin Scorsese to Steven Spielberg and many more.
This year, there’s even more on the agenda. Raya is a now a film celeb in her own right. The co-host of Arab’s Got Talent played a starring role in the Arabic version of Angry Birds, the animated movie currently going down a storm in cinemas worldwide. Rayaplays the character Matilda. “Basically, the festival started with me presenting Angry Birds on Tuesday, we did a whole showcase presentation with all the international voice cast. So it started off on the other side of the fence but now I’m back to my usual self,” she laughs over the phone from on location in Cannes.
That means pow wows with some of the biggest A-listers on the planet. She explains: “I interviewed Justin Timberlake for the new animation called Trolls. He wrote the soundtrack and executive produced it, and he was here with Anna Kendrick, who is also super talented.
“Tomorrow it is George Clooney and Julia Roberts, then Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe, and then Robert DeNiro and Sean Penn, Mel Gibson and Nicolas Cage. Everyone is coming this year and I’m going to interview them all.”
After her experience on Angry Birds, is Raya considering more acting work - perhaps alongside some of those big names?
“Well it’s the first thing I have ever done besides a school play when I was a child, and all I can say sincerely is that it’s not the same as being a TV presenter,” she says.
“In fact, it’s the opposite. For one, you have to be yourself to succeed and for the other you need to know how to be someone else, so at core they are very different professions. I did love it, though, but that was because there was no pressure - it was not like my career depended on it.”
“I hope the film is successful so that there is a sequel we can record, that would be nice. But am I going to become an Oscarwining actress? I hope so,” she laughs.
“Who am I to say no if Steven Spielberg offers me a role. Actually I’m interviewing him in two days’ time so who knows!”
While Raya’s schedule has been more than a little hectic, you can forgive her for feeling a little weary this year. She’s eight months pregnant, but still working flat out for those big interviews.
She wasn’t allowed to travel to Dubai for the Arabic premiere of Angry Birds on doctor’s orders, but a short-haul trip to Cannes got the green light.
“At Cannes you are running around like a headless chicken, and I must admit I do get out of breath now but that reminds me I’m pregnant,” she says. “I have been very fortunate I can still do everything I usually do. And you know, this baby has been to the BAFTAs, the Oscars and the Golden Globes and now the Cannes film festival!”
HOST WITH THE MOST: Presenter Raya Abirached lends her voice to the Arabic version of the animated film Angry Birds