SMASHING STEREOTYPES: The stereotypical image in the Western media of a Muslim woman, and a Shiite in particular, is someone heavily veiled and taking on a traditional female role. But reporter Catherine Taylor says that it takes only a short time in the Middle East to realize how mistaken that view is. And she notes that the career of Leila Bazzi-Jarrouje, whom she interviewed for today's story about a new Arab women's TV network (page 7), is exhibit A. "Leila has smashed the glass ceiling with so much force that, as creative head of Lebanon's National Broadcasting Network, she's scored a job that would be a coup for any Western woman, especially at age 33. When I questioned her on how she did it, she said whenever she felt her gender might be getting in the way of her dreams, she would 'push the men away as hard as they were pushing me down.' "
A STAR IS (ALMOST) BORN: The Monitor's Danna Harman has long harbored dreams of an acting career. And while working on today's story about Nigeria's booming soap-opera industry (page 1), she got her big break. Well, almost. "I was sitting in a run-down office in Lagos, interviewing Zeb Ejiro, Nigeria's top director, and told him about my dream. Right there on the spot he said he would write me into his next soap. He said I would come out to Nigeria for a week or two in August and we would film my scenes. It was unclear exactly what role I would have, but he said the fans would love a white person in the show. I can see it now, 6 million Nigerian viewers would know my face. I would be a big star here."
But after a chat with her editor about journalism ethics, including the appearance of Danna accepting a "gift" in exchange for a favorable story, she reconsidered the offer. "When I went back later to watch his auditions, Zeb suggested I read a few lines to check out my talent. But with an air of mystery, I declined as any true movie star would."
David Clark Scott