Shooting Star: Hafsia Herzi

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Hafsia Herzi had no acting experience beyond working as an extra when she auditioned for Abdellatif Kechiche's immigrant family tale "The Secret of the Grain." She landed the role of Rym, a feisty teenager who salvages her stepfather's dream of opening a cous-cous restaurant by putting on an eye-catching belly dance.

The Hollywood Reporter: Your first film role resulted in an award at the Venice Film Festival and a Cesar for best female newcomer. How far did that boost your career?

Hafsia Herzi: It was an extraordinary way to start my career because it was my first film. The prize in Venice was very important because it was given by a jury of international directors. So both awards really helped me.

THR: What has been your most challenging role to date?

Herzi: For me, each role is difficult. "The Grain" was challenging because I had to put on weight, I had to learn how to belly dance. But since then, every role has been a challenge because I've never had any training as an actress. I'm from a very modest background, and my parents couldn't afford to pay for acting school. So it all demands a great deal of concentration. For me, it's never easy.

THR: Who are your acting role models?

Herzi: I haven't really got any. It's more the world of making films which excites me, I love the shoot, acting, being filmed, exploring other characters.

THR: What are your future projects?

Herzi: I'm currently doing theater in Paris in "Cesar, Fanny, Marius" by Marcel Pagnol. After that, I've got some very promising film projects, but nothing sure yet.
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