Journalist and author Rula Jebreal momentarily puts down her reporter’s notebook to reveal what fuels her, drives her, and inspires her to keep telling stories. Directed by Robert Rabensteiner.
“New York is an incredible place that connects humanity in ways that don’t make you feel like a foreigner—you feel a part of something,” says author and award-winning journalist Rula Jebreal, who moved to the city around three years ago after a successful career in Italy as a broadcast journalist covering the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Born in Haifa, Israel, and raised in East Jerusalem, Jebreal culled from her upbringing the basis of her first book, Miral, published in Italian in 2003, which was adapted into a film in 2010. “My process of writing books begins with a feeling,” says Jebreal, who is currently at work on a novel that traces the life of three women during the Arab Spring movement and their struggles to have their own voices heard within the political system. “When I watch something, I have to feel strongly about it in order to act,” she says of what inspires her to put pen to paper.
It’s with that conviction and independent spirit that Jebreal raises her daughter, 15-year-old Miral, in Greenwich Village. “I’ve told Miral to carry her world inside of her,” she says. “Wherever she goes to live, that world will be a part of her and she will always make it part of her surroundings.”
Jebreal works to teach her daughter the importance of maintaining a strong sense of self and staying away from the desire to just fit in. “People are driven in popular culture to want to look alike—I don’t want to,” she says.
Perhaps it seems easy for someone like Jebreal—who is striking with dark skin and who possesses whip-smart intellect—to comment on aspiring to certain notions of what it means to be beautiful, but in fact she’s very aware of the prejudices that come along with being blessed with good genes. “When I worked as an anchorwoman in Rome, I had to wear jackets to be taken seriously, to appear driven and credible,” she explains. “Things have changed now thanks to the great strong women in the fashion world who have pushed boundaries. These women have established that you can be a successful businesswoman and you don’t have to hide your beauty along the way.”—Nandita Khanna