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Interview with Lebanese TV Presenter Rima Karaki

Arabian Moda x Rima Karaki
You may know her as the well-poised television host who reports on serious topics and serves as a voice for the voiceless. Though, behind it all, is a leading woman with a colorful character and an infectious smile. 

Arabian Moda spoke to Lebanese television presenter Rima Karaki about her decades-long career and revealed a side of her personality the public has yet to discover.

Photographer: Mazen Kais
Fashion: Christophe Guillarmé

AM: In your own words, how would you introduce us to Rima Karaki?
After all what I have encountered throughout my career, covering controversial topics ranging from the success of the rich and famous to the unfortunate human struggles, misery, refugees, victims of war and dangerous hot zones, I can say that I have changed a lot. I am no longer the woman who believes she can change the world. I am rather the woman who understands what is behind headlines, who screams the truth at any cost, and who is adamantly rebellious towards injustice. Now, I know I cannot change the dark picture, and I can affirm that this is a daily painful struggle that empowers another mechanism within my personality as well in order to keep a certain balance that is: comedy and sarcasm.

So you can simply say that I am a mixture of extremes, driven by passion and enthusiasm, yet carefully sensitive towards human related issues. I am at times sarcastic, moody and unpredictable, yet always responsible and confronting.

AM: Help us trace back your television career
I studied at the Lebanese American University and graduated with a degree in Business computer, complemented by another degree in management and leadership from the American University of Beirut. Upon my graduation I worked at the Central Bank of Lebanon. I embarked on an opportunity in media by pure coincidence, when I tagged along with a friend who was trying out for an anchor position at a local TV station. I was spotted there by Antoine Remy and Makram Hannoush (may their souls rest in peace), who were supervising the auditions and asked me to undergo a camera test. I was recruited on the spot. 

That’s when I turned my back to the banking sector and headed into the entertainment world where I started interviewing famous figures in all fields, then moved to covering international events, and presenting socio-political economic investigative shows with hot topics for the last few years, as a field reporter and a studio anchor.

Arabian Moda x Rima Karaki

AM: You have reached a much-deserved high level of success in recent years. Do you think it’s due to hard work or luck?
Success is about taking the right opportunity at the right time, and the key to success is for you to take the challenge, then value and invest in your unique qualities. Luck is crucial but in fact efforts and personality serve to attract it. All the luck and opportunities of the world are not sufficient if one is not daring enough to take risks and make bold decisions.

AM: And what type of TV programs do you enjoy hosting the most?
I like interviews in general with all sorts of people, conversations that appear to be spontaneous, honest and transparent, where both the interviewer and interviewee willingly reveal more of the inner self and deep emotions. I call them “shows with mission” or “therapy style shows” and they can range from light, to serious, controversial, funny and deep.

AM: In your socio-cultural shows, how do you manage to stay objective and distance yourself from the issues?
Objectivity doesn’t work when it comes to fairness. You may choose to be objective when analyzing numbers, when reciting empirical recipes, when stating facts, but, when it comes to people’s wounds, aggressors and victims, corruption of political leaders, dirtiness of certain religious figures, you can’t but have a standpoint. Objectivity when talking about human rights, women’s rights, justice, national issues, is only a passive silly strategy; a mere act of hypocrisy. As for how it impacts my life, well it does! I can’t balance between my job and the other sides of my life. If I’m tired or upset at work, it affects my home, and relationships. Mood is not an independent factor; at the end we are not robots!

Arabian Moda x Rima Karaki

AM: What is your proudest TV moment?
Many moments mark my memory. Serving people, standing for my nation and fighting for human causes was really a great honor for me, a blessing. I had indescribable moments of love, dignity and patriotism. To list a few; I personally went on the streets and initiated the removal of the different political parties’ flags in my city, flags that reflect and push for sectarianism. I convinced some criminals to surrender, and few of them were arrested willingly at our studios. I helped abused children to find safe shelters, I also honored our beloved army for its non-ending sacrifices in a chaotic country like ours, I fired threatening guests for their disrespect during interviews. TV moments were too many in my career, some went viral. I was honored by international media, being a guest of honor in many TV shows in leading stations and newspapers around the world.

AM: Your advice to an aspiring TV presenter?
Seek challenges, fight your own way, “inspired by” is ok but “copy paste” is weak. Stay true to yourself, routine and comfort zones don’t match with passion and success.

AM: Finally, what is a career objective you still want to achieve?
On the level of media, a show that would gather all the work I did before (the serious and the light, the entertainment and the investigative), all the contradictions of life and at the same time, one that satisfies all my complexes. On another level, reviving the acting goal. I took several courses at the university and many experts encouraged me to pursue a career in acting. I acted recently in a series as a simple self-test and echoes were very encouraging. I can say that I am ready for an opportunity if it ever arises. And on the level of writing, more to come.