Hailing from Afghanistan, Najiba Faiz is a known Pashtun actor and anchor. She is the first Pashtun woman who kicked off her career as a child artist from PTV. She completed her bachelor’s studies at Abdul Wali Khan University and is now completing her masters in journalism. Najiba also holds the record of working for AVT Khyber, the first-ever Pashtun channel, where she successfully hosted a show for 7 years. In 2009, she became the first Pashtun women program manager at AVT Channels, and also worked as a creative manager at head office and part of management.
Her most popular drama serials include ‘Dil Ruba’ (a Pashtun drama); ‘Rough Lewanae’, ‘Sang-e-Mar Mar’, ‘Mai Toot Gai’, ‘Kaala Jadu - Season 2’, ‘Angoori Sawaan’. People liked her acting in these dramas. She made her first film debut in 2007 with ‘Khuda Kay Liye’ by Shoaib Mansoor in which she played the role of a Pashtun girl. Najiba has worked in dramas, films, and shows and has a keen interest in journalism, which evoked a writer in her. She has 4 Publications in Khabarial, which is a Pashto news medium. Najiba is also a social activist and she has been raising her voice for the rights of Afghan girls through her social media platform. She is currently working with Hum Pashto as an anchor to a show named ‘Pakhair Pakhtunkhwa.’ This week in a candid interview with You! Najiba talks about her life and work...
You! Tell us a little bit about your family and work...
Najiba Faiz: My family immigrated to Pakistan in the 1980s from Afghanistan. I was brought up in Pakistan. My family has always been based and dwells in Peshawar. However, I had lived in Karachi and now in Islamabad because of my work. Before 2020, I worked for three years in Kabul.
You! What motivated you to come into showbiz?
NF: I started my career as a child star on a children’s show when I was only four, so coming into showbiz was a natural progression.
You! What have you written so far in Pashto?
NF: I have written several columns for BBC and Khabarial on different issues that women face in Pashtun culture in Afghanistan. I started writing after the unfortunate incident of Mashal Khan, which took place in Wali Khan University, Mardan.
You! What do you like most about your work?
NF: Being an artist, whatever character I play always has a positive message for society, and that's the thing I like most about my work.
You! Being a woman, what kinds of challenges do you encounter?
NF: There are always many hurdles for girls in our society and especially for Pashtun girls. We are witnessing that girls still strive for basic living rights and education while showbiz is something beyond a social taboo in Pashtun culture. I still face lots of challenges though I have become stronger than before. My siblings have grown up now, and I have their support alongside my parents, nonetheless, challenges will always be there.
You! What are the main issues being faced by Pashto women in Afghanistan, today?
NF: In today’s Afghanistan, not merely Pashtun girls but girls from all ethnicities (Uzbek, Hazara,Tajik, and Balochi) are being deprived of basic living rights and education. While the world is watching as a spectator that women are being stripped off from work, health, and education. In the new government, they have completely abolished the women’s ministry, so what else could be a major setback for the women's rights development. They are trying to take Afghan women back to the Stone Age. But I’m still hopeful that it won't happen, as more and more women are raising their voices and standing up for their rights.
You! What is the most important advice you can give to women?
NF: I have seen that girls give up on their dreams and careers because of society’s pressure. They are afraid of being judged by the society. I advice all these girls to never give up their dreams and stay firm. Our girls are so talented. They shouldn’t be afraid of anyone. Just believe in yourself, girls!
You! Do you think general mind set of our society is changing regarding women?
NF: Of course, with the passage of time, the mindset of our people is changing. Now, women are also showing their presence in showbiz which is a positive trend.
You! What does a typical day look like for you?
NF: Weekdays are like work, work and work. However, on weekends I spend my time with my family, friends, go hiking, or stay home - watching Netflix with green tea.
You! We have heard you are a fitness freak. What is your fitness regimen?
NF: I take my body fitness quite seriously. I go to the gym and go hiking on weekends. I also take care of my diet. I try to take more fruits and vegetables in my diet, and drink more water and green tea. I always try to have a full good sleep.
You! How do you unwind?
NF: I like going hiking, shopping, reading books, and watching Netflix.
You! What are you doing these days?
NF: I am currently doing a live morning show on a private channel five days a week. I have recently worked in a mega serial project ‘Sange Mah’ which is going to be aired soon. I am also working in a web series. And I am also working on a script for a sitcom drama on my YouTube channel.