Fatma Ahmed Kamal Shaker was given the stage- name “Shadia” by director Helmi Rafla. In her heyday during the 1950s and 1960s, she avoided being typecast by working with a number of different directors and in different genres—melodrama, romance, and comedy. It was, however, her musical talent as a singer that established Shadia as one of the most important Egyptian cinema stars of her era. She starred with actor Kamal EShinawy in more than 30 films, and sang opposite Farid al-Atrache and Abdel Halim Hafez —most notably in The People’s Idol (Rafla, 1967). She appeared with Faten Hamama in An Appointment with Life (Ezzedine Zulficar, 1954), while in The Unknown Woman (Mahmoud Zulficar, 1959), she plays the role of Fatma in a heavy melodrama in which she faces a series of tragedies and injustices, commits murder, and is defended in court by her estranged son; she also played the good-hearted seductress who takes in a fugitive in The Thief and the Dogs (Kamal E1-Sheikh, 1962). Shadia likewise performed strongly in comedy roles, most notably in Wife Number 13 (Fatin Abdel-Wahab, 1962) and My Wife the General Manager (Abdel-Wahab, 1966).
Although often cast in cunning and cheeky roles, Shadia’s features could adopt serious, melodramatic expression. In The Road (Zulficar, 1964), while Souad Hosni played the young, naive desk clerk who falls in love with Saber (Rushdi Abaza), Shadia took on the role of his mistress who sneaks to his room while her elderly husband sleeps. She also played Skina opposite actress Soheir ElBably in the stage version of Raya and Sakina, based on the true story of two Alexandrian serial killers and directed by Hussein Kama (The 1953 film version directed by Salah Abu Seif is heralded as a classic of Egyptian cinema.) Shadia performed in more than 100 films before she retired from the public eye and joined a number of actresses who took on the veil (hijab) in an act of Islamic resistance and salvation.