I have been described by my friends and family as…
Brave, emotional, generous, stylish, and motherly.
My best qualities are…
Enduring…and my generosity. I’m hard-working, and I love passionately.
I am most proud of…
Raising my two beautiful sons.
Moving countries, with all its challenges.
And having reached and achieved a great career.
My favourite quotes…
“Life is too short.”
“Let there be spaces in your togetherness, And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.
Love one another, but make not a bond of love: let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your soul.” Khalil Gibran
What advice would I give my 20-year-old self…
Speak up and believe in yourself.
We all experience many lifetimes in this one life. What did you find were the most poignant changes as you entered your 40s?
I found myself… and let go of many belief systems.
I let go of shame and guilt and discovered my self-worth.
I grew up in Lebanon during the civil war, and my family and I were repeatedly displaced. As a result, we lived in a series of towns when I was young. We were always moving, just trying to stay safe. We went to Syria for a year, and every six months or so, my brother and sister and I would change schools. Finally, at the age of 14, we immigrated to Canada to begin a new life. The challenge was to get used to a new country, culture, and the freezing temperatures, but at least, we were safe.
I had my schooling in Canada and then went on to study biology at university. From the age of 14 onwards, I worked to help support my family and pay my college fees. I always understood the value of money and the importance of working and getting paid. I know money is not everything, but it meant I could take care of my family, be independent and help.
My original plan was to do something in science, but then I got married and moved back to Lebanon, and was unable to find work. Almost by chance, I applied for a job in the media industry, got a position to work there.
I loved working there and seeing the initial ideas mapped out on the storyboards, right through to the final shaping and distribution.
I worked incredibly hard, doing 20-hour days, and was promoted to be an executive in the marketing department. In 2006, sadly another war broke out in Lebanon. I had two sons by then, and I was scared, so I took an opportunity in Dubai – and got the job.
In 2021, we launched OSN Woman, on International Women’s Day. With no channel in the region for women, we had to bring content from abroad. Our hopes and dreams of OSN Woman, are to give women a voice and a source of empowerment, leadership, and courage.
There is an old, inherited belief system in this region, that if you are female, you can’t do certain things. Even if you bring in revenue, people don’t always believe you were able to do it on your own.
The women in the Middle East are a deep inspiration to me. They have endured tough lives. In Saudi, we are witnessing a massive change for women, because women have fought so hard to beat the status quo. One day, I would really like to see gender equality in this region.
Thoughts on aging…
Aging is scary, but we have to accept it with grace and a big smile.
Dreams never stop. I have achieved a great deal and there’s more to achieve in my career and personal life.
Rolla arrived with her partner, Brendon, and I took some business portraits of him, while her makeover was being done.
(I’ll be publishing a collection of those in the coming month). My portrait sessions are always relaxed with a mix of conversations about life,
then some natural posing, then more chatting. I love hearing people’s stories. What drives them, and how they see the world.
There are lessons in each and every person I meet.
In the lead-up to Rolla’s photoshoot, we talked on ZOOM about her shoot and her vision for what she wanted.
Rolla mentioned that she had been published in a book called ‘The Female Lead” – ‘We Rise By Lifting Others‘ (which is something I value and live by).
“The stories of 67 remarkable women, from diverse backgrounds, interviewed exclusively for this collection.
All show the incredible strength, talent, ingenuity, resilience, and bravery that women possess.
Among them are world leaders, artists, activists, engineers, writers, athletes, and entrepreneurs.
So many have beaten the odds to succeed in their fields of work: or broken free from circumstances.”
They are trailblazers. They are heroines. And we celebrate them all.
These stories show young women the countless routes to fulfillment and prove that no one journey is right or successful.
How we must find our own paths and question the traditional options that women have been granted until now.” The Female Lead
The 40 Over 40 Women’s Portrait Campaign tied in beautifully with this. It all felt so in alignment with the campaign – an empowering and uplifting experience for women; hearing their stories, and seeing their vulnerability, strength, and confidence come through in front of my lens.
Rolla now works at OSN (Orbit Showtime Network) as SVP Acquisition and Head of Arabic Channels. She is an inspiring and warm person,
with beautiful energy that could be felt as soon as she walked into my studio. I’m looking forward to reconnecting when I’m in Dubai.
For those that have just discovered my blog, I’m an international portrait photographer, now based in Cape Town, South Africa. I have had the privilege of photographing people across the globe and hearing their stories. My career has spanned almost 20 years, and 17 countries and my dream is to continue photographing women, and families, and help them turn their houses into homes with printed legacy portraits.
We need to be seen.
We need our legacy to live on.
For ourselves and our families.
I invite you to come to my studio for an uplifting and confidence-building portrait session.
So I can change the way you see yourself.
“Life tells the best stories. Let me tell yours.” Monica Dart
Connect with me by clicking HERE.