Fatima AlBanawi is a creative writer, actress, performance and theatre director from Saudi Arabia. This multi-hyphenate creative who aspires to deepen the conversation and strengthen the bridge between social impact and the arts is the founder of The Other Story Project - Jeddah city’s public space mover and shaker since 2015. The project has collected almost 5000 real life stories from strangers and packaged many into productions, such as the short film "A Blink of an Eye". From the first touring Biennale in the world inaugurated in Buenos Aires, to Palais de Tokyo in Paris, Al-Banawi travels locally and internationally to perform human stories. Though a challenging endeavor in a private society, she believes in the power of storytelling to channel vulnerable and intimate conversations. She was selected as a Next Generation Leader by Time Magazine for her unique ventures, and was called the (Sophie Calle of Saudi Arabia) by members of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Paris after the great reception of her performance “Amours Saoudiennes”.
Al-Banawi received a masters in Theological Studies from Harvard University while focusing her scholarly writings on Gender and Identity in Muslim diaspora and contemporary Middle East, and shedding light on the sociology of film, literature, and issues of representation in both. She combines her passion for ethnography and creativity in her first book, The Other Story (work in progress), a personal memoir and social commentary on stories gathered from the streets over the years. This passion for psycho-social development and the arts is not new; it started in 2010 when Al-Banawi co-founded the Theatre of the Oppressed chapter in Jeddah and staged one of its plays at Harvard later on. Al-Banawi's latest theatre work as director and actress in "The Straight Circle" play has caught attention and made headlines for surpassing the classic elite structure as it moved to the streets of the city.
Indeed Al-Banawi, the actress, is no less important. In 2016, Al-Banawi became internationally recognized for her debut in the award winning Saudi feature film, Barakah Meets Barakah. She continues to act as an instinctive response to her passion for the profession with an incentive to reshape the public narrative about human relations. She appeared in "Bashar" series, "A Blink of an Eye" short, "Roll’em" feature, and "Goin South" short. Today's leading actress also opens the doors to her studio (Alf Wad) as an acting coach, making it a hub to build and foster the actors' and film community in her country. She has been trained in the Undesirable Elements Theatre Method by Ping Chong & Company, in addition to Improv by both, Improv Playhouse of San Francisco and Lebanese award winner director, Lucien Bourjeily, and in acting methods by both Luke Lehner Studios and member of the Actor's Studio in LA, Gerald James.
The multi-hyphenate creative has been featured for her acting and storytelling work in many media outlets including headlines in the Financial Times, The Reporter, Variety, France 24, and from American and Italian, to Egyptian and Saudi channels.