Saudi-British actor Aiysha Hart is styled by Gemma Deeks in Gucci’s Fine Jewellery Collection for images by Lucia O’Connor-McCarthy for Harper’s Bazaar Arabia December 2018. Interviewed by Emily Baxter-Priest, Hart reflects on her newly-released film ‘Colette’.
Cast alongside Keira Knightley who plays the title character, it tells the biographical story of author Gabrielle Colette who agrees to ghost-write novels for her husband – at first to critical acclaim and then to devastating effect. Aiysha plays the role of Polaire, a divisive, eclectic and hugely successful French/Algerian singer and actress who embodies the most famous of Colette’s characters, Claudine, on stage. With myriad side narratives, the film’s core centres around these two women who stand up to the pre-existing circumstances of their time, their urgency for freedom of expression and the challenging of societal constraints, and whilst set in the late 19th century, its complexities very much resonate today.
On Forming Her Feminist Views
“I went to King’s College London to read English Literature, which was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It informed and helped shape so many of my world views, including feminism and how I approach my work. I grew up with a phenomenal mother who always said, ‘Get your education, have a career, stand on your own two feet and never let anyone control you.’ So feminism was a philosophy I grew up with but I never really gave it a name until I went to university. It was there that I was introduced to feminist theory and the vocabulary to express my thoughts and opinions on gender equality and female empowerment. I’m so glad that today feminism is such a talked-about political movement and that it’s speaking so loudly to so many men and women. Today, I am an ‘intersectional feminist’ and it’s a very important part of who I am.”
Choosing another quote in a meaty interview, the actor reflects on a topic very close to our hearts at AOC:
The Female Gaze
“I wanted to be photographed by a female photographer for this cover shoot because I wanted to be seen through the female gaze. Firstly, and creatively, because I find what women find attractive and captivating in other women isn’t necessarily the same as what men are drawn to, as I believe for women it’s often more about the essence of a person rather than their physical image. And secondly, because we have to practice what we preach when it comes to equal opportunity. For so long we’ve had men primarily behind the lens, but also as directors and men calling the shots when it comes to employment. There are so many amazing women working in every industry who are often overlooked because of their gender. I believe that it’s time to start levelling the playing field and I want to contribute to positive change."