Friday March 9, 2018 By: Jaylan El Shazly
When Eiten Zeerban was twelve years old, she took all her savings and bought herself a tape recorder to interview people. From there on, she carved her way through the world of journalism.
After years of experience working in television journalism in Egypt, Lebanon, the United States, and England, Zeerban now presents a successful online weekly show called Cold Coffee with Eiten. Her show, a series of short videos discussing various motherhood issues, airs online on 3a2ilati.com, (pronounced a’elatee, my family), a digital family and parenting magazine. Her videos have garnered a viewership of over 300,000 people on Facebook and have covered topics that included fathers’ involvement in child rearing, how to deal with toddlers’ endless questions, and how to relax and let go
We sat down with Zeerban for a chat:
Women Of Egypt: Tell us about your show and how it all came together?
Eiten Zeerban: I moved to Dubai about 4 years ago and I took a break from my career, to focus on having and taking care of my daughter, Chloe. It was something I planned for and I was ready to immerse myself into motherhood and enjoy this special time. Once Chloe started talking, my whole world changed. I realized how big of an impact our conversations together have on her life. I started sharing my chats with Chloe, with friends and family. They found them amusing. Soon after, I shared them on social media using the hashtag #conversationswithchloe. The hashtag evolved into a column on motherhood on Marhababy, an online mother and baby magazine. 3a2ilati.com noticed my work and suggested I create a show about motherhood, to host on their website.
WOE: Why is it called Cold Coffee?
EZ: Once you have a child, coffee becomes a huge part of your life. You rely on it to get through the day, after many sleepless nights. Often, moms schedule play dates over coffee. So, I wanted to give the show a name that mothers can relate to. There’s an expression that says ‘A mother’s coffee is always cold’ because she never has time to drink it. In my first episode, I discussed how finally I was able to enjoy a cup of hot coffee after dropping Chole off at daycare, on her first day of school.
WOE: What inspired you to talk about motherhood and children?
EZ: When I was discussing this project with 3ailati.com, I thought long and hard about how to address motherhood and children on the show. There was a clear need for Arabic online content that centered on motherhood and families, since such content was in short supply. My experience as a mother had a profound impact on me. We realized that talking about motherhood would be something I am both comfortable with and experienced in. I also wanted to discuss the positive sides of motherhood, and to comfort other mothers, especially since some mothers can be so ruthless on online forums. I dedicated my very first episode to tell mothers ‘Well done! You are doing a great job’. I also support mothers, encourage them to take things easy.
WOE: Tell us about your journey in journalism?
EZ: I started my journey as a TV journalist at the age of 18, while studying journalism. It was during the brink of the digital era, where a big crew with a producer, director, and control room were no longer necessary. Instead, reporters edited, recorded, interviewed, did voice overs and other day to day activities themselves. It was an unprecedented shift in the industry, which made it very exciting. My first big job was in Lebanon with Rotana channel. I co-hosted a daily live entertainment news show with other Arab youth.
Then I moved back to Egypt to complete my master’s degree at the AUC. In Egypt, I presented Al Nashra Al Faneya for Rotana cinema between 2007 to 2010. After I obtained my master’s, I traveled and worked on various projects until I moved to Dubai. And with the emergence of social media, another big shift occurred in journalism, and digital presence became crucial for journalists. So, when I considered returning to the workforce, two years ago, I focused my efforts on the digital world, and that’s when things fell into place with 3ailati.com.
WOE: How do you choose the topics for your show?
EZ: I am all about lists! I note down the different topics based on my day-to day experiences and reflections, and choose the ones worthy of discussion on the show. Sometimes I receive recommendations from people. However, I try to steer clear of controversial topics since I am not a doctor or a specialist. I focus on the experience of motherhood, not on personal choices. I try to mix light episodes – like discussing coffee – with episodes that address more serious issues like allowing boys to express their emotions by crying, for example.
WOE: Do you face any challenges when you develop a certain topic to discuss?
EZ: My biggest challenge is how to relay my message without upsetting or offending my viewers. I spend a lot of time carefully choosing the words I use, not to alienate anyone. Women receive so much unwarranted advice about motherhood. I want to be a source of positive energy rather than a voice of criticism, which means I need to make sure I do not sound like I am telling them what to do.
WOE: How has the show been received so far?
EZ: Our episodes usually exceed two-hundred thousand views, which is amazing! I receive many comments, 95% of them are positive. I enjoy the instant reactions I receive from viewers. Our most popular episode discussed how to transform your husband into a proactive parent. It hit quite a nerve with many mothers, as it seems many of them are not getting the help they need from their husbands.
WOE: Has there been any negative feedback? If so, how do you deal with that?
EZ: Sometimes we get negative feedback, especially when words are taken out of context. For example, when I spoke about letting go and said it was OK to be a bit late and it was no reason for stress, some people understood that I was encouraging people not to respect their time and appointments. In such cases, I simply ignore these comments since you cannot please everyone.
WOE: What have you found to be most rewarding in this journey?
EZ: I find positive reactions from people to be the most rewarding aspect of this project. It is truly special when people tell me I have eased their minds about a problem they are facing, which is the aim of these videos. I also get excited when non-parents watch the show and enjoy it.
WOE: What do you hope to achieve through your videos?
EZ: I want to continue contributing online content about motherhood with positive messages and experiences, so mothers don’t feel like they are alone in their journey. I hope mothers are comforted by my messages and find the content relatable.
WOE: What are your future plans?
EZ: My plan is to write a children’s book, which I have already started working on. It would provide mothers a great bonding opportunity when they sit with their children and read to them. It’s my favorite activity to do with my daughter. I also hope to reach as many women as possible through my videos, as well as increase my online interaction with my current viewers.
WOE: Do you have any advice for all mothers out there?
EZ: My advice to other mothers is, ‘follow your gut and trust your instincts. Most of the time you know what you are doing and what needs to be done, so don’t allow others to bully you or pressure you to do something, which deep down you know isn’t right for you or your family.
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