Habiba Basiouny

On Covering the Oscars and How She Got Her Big Break

After pursuing her promising career at a young age, Habiba Basiony managed to draw attention to her polished flair in hosting and participating in some of the best entertainment television programmes. The ‘Spotlight’ host has impressively covered the 89thAcademy Awards, putting her outgoing personality to fabulous use. Indisputably, Basiony is an alluring woman with adventurous soul; the sky is her limit and she’s always striving for wider acclaim. The stunning host speaks up about the challenges she faces, some of her personal interests, and her coverage of the Oscars.

Tell us about yourself and what sparked your interest in TV presenting.

I’m an adventurous person who loves to live life, take on challenges, and be introduced to many cultures that allow me to learn from the people I meet along the way. How it all started was a complete fluke! A good friend of mine talked me into signing up for a TV presenting competition. Though it was the first time I was introduced to the world of entertainment, I was instantly hooked. I’ve faced many challenges and difficulties since then; I’ve had to work on myself, study, and practise to develop my skills within the industry.

You grew up in Chicago, USA. Was it difficult to adjust when you moved back to Egypt? 

There were some difficulties, of course, because I grew up in a lifestyle very different from that of Egypt. But then I made great lifelong friends and found people here warm and caring. They also love to live life to the fullest, which is amazing! Perhaps the hardest that I had to deal with was the country’s lack of organisation. Yet, after travelling so much, I’ve come to conclude that every place in the world has its pros and cons, and you just have to take it all in.

How did you land your gig for ‘Spotlight’, and what do you love the most about the show?

OSN was working on ‘Spotlight’ for quite some time, and the executive producer of the show, Fathi Azouz, had been following my work for a while. I worked with him on a special feature for the US channel E! News last year, so he was familiar with my style and work ethic. I was recruited as soon as ‘Spotlight’ was ready for launch. He has been a great support to me, and I’m really happy to have this opportunity of working with him and the whole OSN team.

Why did you leave ‘Nafsana’? And what did it add to your career?

I left ‘Nafsana’ when I got my gig for ‘Spotlight’, which is just the kind of show I have been aspiring to host since day one. It fits me inside out, and allows me to draw on my Arabic background as well as my Western upbringing; it just lets me be who I really am. That said, I learned so much from ‘Nafsana’, and I’m grateful to have had the chance to be one of the members of the infamous round table. The most rewarding part about the experience for me was interacting with like-minded people, who reached out to me through social media.

You impressively covered the 89thAcademy Awards.  Tell us about your experience.

I had covered red carpets for film festivals and premieres before, but the Oscars was just something else. It is a huge, well-organised event, so you get to see everything coming together days before they close off the street at the Dolby Theatre. The experience is just so exciting with all the buzz in the air…then you find Matt Damon four inches away from your face, and you know this is it! [Laughs].

We know how much you love travelling. What’s your favourite destination and culture?

Since I love travelling so much, I don’t have a favourite destination. I’m always hungry to see more of the world and its cultures.  Every new destination has something exciting to offer, but I must admit that I’m a beach girl at heart, so wherever I go, I love to spend at least one or two days by the sea because it’s how I re-energise.

What are the challenges that face you in such a job and how do you overcome them?

There are two main challenges: the first is how all the travelling and crazy last minute plans get in the way of spending time with my family and friends. People assume it’s all glitz and glamour, but I’ve spent the majority of my weekends this year either working, or on aeroplanes, so there are sacrifices to be made. The other big challenge is that you have to work very well under pressure, and you have to know your info. That’s the only way you can get the stars to stop and give you a good interview.

Where do you find your inspiration?

I find inspiration in details all around me. From the dedication my parents have shown me, and the ambitions of my friends who push and strive for more, to the many passionate talents I meet on the job. I also get inspired by the beauty of the world, which is why I love to travel so much, especially where I can see and explore nature.

What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?

I’m an advocate for conservation and living healthy. I love to hike, swim, dive –I’m basically game for anything in the outdoors! Protecting our planet is also incredibly important to me. Ignoring eco-damage is naïve because it affects us all on a daily basis. The same goes with our health; being healthy is finding balance, and it’s something we all need to work on every day.

What is something you find yourself spending too much money on?

Shoes! [Chuckles]. My newest obsession is buying lots of baby clothes for my nephew Noah, which I find too cute. I can never help myself around them!

Your fans would like to know

Favourite sport: I started roller blading when I was 12, and it was my main means of transportation for a long time, so it will always have a place in my heart. I’m also really into yoga.

One movie you’ll always love: That’s like choosing a favourite child! The Shape of Water, Mother, Killing of a Sacred Dear, and Mawlana are must-sees this year.

Your bucket list: Go on a two-month tour in South America, sail the Mediterranean, learn how to ride a motorcycle, sky dive, own a McLaren, go behind the scenes on a big Hollywood production, and hang out with Jake Gyllenhal. [Laughs].

Guilty pleasure: Cake!

What is next for Habiba Basiony?

I’ve been focused on acting since starring in the series ‘Wadea Amni’ (Security Situation) last Ramadan. It’s a new challenge in my life, and I’m very excited about this new endeavour.