Salima Khudhair has performed in theater, cinema, and television since the 1950s. She has participated in the plays "al-Bayk wal Sayek", "al-Nakhla wal Jiran", and "Entabh Qad Yahduth Laka". She won best actress awards for her performances in the film "al-Tajreba" and the play "Kolohum Awladi". Khudhair was also one of the founders of the National Acting Group, which was formed in 1969.
Mawtani met with the actress to discuss her remarkable career.
Mawtani: How did your acting career begin?
Salima Khudhair: When I was a student, I used to go to movie theaters in Basra, and this was one of the sources of culture for us. I loved acting ever since.
Once, Egypt's Youssef Wahbi Theatrical Group visited the city and late actress Amina Rezq was one of the actresses taking part in the play. I was impressed by her performance on stage. Many years later, when I became a professional actress, I happened to meet her and I told her that she was behind my love of art and my becoming a professional actress.
Mawtani: Did your family accept your desire to be an actress?
Khudhair: They were not prepared at all. One of my brothers even carried a dagger one day to prevent me from acting. However, after I got married, I was able to continue with my career because of my husband's understanding and support for me throughout my art career.
I began with "Howat al-Fan" group in Basra in 1958 with the play "Kefal fel Jazaer". I played the role of freedom fighter Jamila Bouhraid. After that, my roles just followed one after the other.
Afterwards, late Haqqi al-Shebli and Sami Abdul Hameed made me an offer to perform plays in Baghdad. In 1965, artist Sadik Ali Shahin invited me to perform on Baghdad radio, where I participated in a number of programs and series, along with my theatrical plays. This also paved the way for me to get into television and perform in shows that were aired live.
I remember once we were performing an episode of a live series and I was playing a role with Abdul Morsal al-Zaidi. I was still in the beginning of my career. In one of the scenes, he was supposed to hit a mirror with his hand. He actually did that very forcefully and broke the mirror. I saw blood coming out of his hand and I did not know what to do. However, he just carried on in his role and I was encouraged to carry on with my performance and the viewers did not feel any confusion.
Mawtani: How is your relationship with your audience in Iraq?
Khudhair: Although I am based in Damascus, I have communication with my audience in Iraq. I find myself lucky when I see that even children remember me. I probably have seen three generations of fans.
A citizen spoke to me a few days ago and his words were very touching, when he said, "Mrs. Salima, I hope to see you on stage in Iraq."
Mawtani: What are you working on now?
Khudhair: I recently finished shooting two series: the first is titled "Bayt al-Safeeh" for al-Baghdadia channel and the second is "Shananeel" for al-Sumaria. We hope they will be shown next Ramadan.
I have started writing my memoirs. I have also started writing a series called "Hadha Heya al-Donia". There is another novel that I wrote, and it is titled "Nakheel Wasit Qithara", which will be adapted as a series and we hope to shoot it in the upcoming months. In addition, there is a new work of art that I was offered a role in, but I have not seen the script yet.