During the Ajyal Spotlight at the ninth Ajyal Film Festival, presented by the Doha Film Institute, the lead cast of the youthful Netflix drama, AlRawabi School for Girls, highlighted how the series not only helped push boundaries for Jordanian cinema but also serves as a relevant work that highlights truths that are less discussed.
Andria Tayeh, who plays the lead role of Mariam, and Noor Taher, who acts as Layan and is a classically trained ballerina, said they were prepared for backlash and negative criticism about the series, “given how important the issues discussed in the show are, the team at Netflix helped us anticipate any potential negative reactions and work through how to express what we felt. Even now, when we need support, we reach out to them.”
Taher said she was fascinated by the storyline and the subject of bullying, which is seldom openly discussed. With every episode of the series, creators Tima Shomali and Shirin Kamal pushed boundaries so that AlRawabi School for Girls is now seen as a quantum leap in Jordanian cinema outside of traditional less provocative stories.
Tayeh said although she loves the local shows and the Bedouin-centric dramas that are a staple of Jordanian entertainment, this was “a giant step towards a new genre of film and series-making." She continued, "it does not present a distorted image of the society; rather, it presents facts that must be discussed. When we talk about subjects such as bullying, we need to address them directly so that we can put an end to it.”
Trending in the top 5 series with international audiences, AlRawabi has enabled Jordanian cinema/series to make a distinctive mark, the young actresses said. “We believe that the future of entertainment will be centered around online streaming, especially as we see young people everywhere around us enjoying content on mobile phones."
Tayeh and Taher (pictured above with DFI CEO Fatma Hassan Alremaihi) said they aspire to further pursue careers in acting and are hopeful for a second season for AlRawabi School for Girls.