Beste Sabri: In front of the camera the mind is more than feelings.

The journalist and host of "This Saturday and Sunday" Beste Sabri with an interview in the new issue of DIVA magazine


Beste Sabri, who together with Mityo Marinov hosts "This Saturday and Sunday" on bTV, may resemble fragile porcelain grace, but has a tough reporter's character. The pretty girl from Shumen works at maximum speed - the newsroom seriously claims that she can work for half a day without looking at the clock or eating lunch. Beste inherited workaholism from his grandfather, who was a primary school teacher for 40 years. And because both her mother and aunt are teachers, as a teenager she wondered if she shouldn't continue the tradition. The family council, on the other hand, recommended law, or medicine for a more stable life. However, Beste chose journalism - she is too curious about the world, she is a fan of dynamics and action, and her name translates as "I create". She studied journalism in Scotland, then graduated with a master's degree in "International Relations" at the University of Aberdeen. She first did an internship in television, then joined the bTV News team. In 2021, she became "Reporter of the Year" - a high rating because it was from her colleagues. She loves dogs - after the smiling and positive Carrie, a Yorkshire terrier who is like a sister to her for 14 years, moved to the paradise of pets, now Beste lives with the mini poodle Kora.


Beste, how much courage did it take for you to accept the role of host in such an iconic show?

When I'm faced with a challenge or a difficulty, I just rush forward whether it's a report or a studio. It is a serious temptation to develop topics in a broadcast that you otherwise have to concentrate on in a minute and a half. I thought for a few days, weighed the pros and cons like any reasonable person, and agreed. Although, of course, I had concerns - after all, I have been on television for less than three years, I lack experience. But Mityo and I managed to get in sync, to feel each other. We are colleagues from the News, he came after me, we were close, we used to go out together. But it never occurred to us that we might become an ethereal couple. A person is difficult to see from the outside and difficult to judge for himself.


Did you get stage fright before the premiere?

Oh yes, yes, I always worry in reasonable amounts. There is no moment when I am completely calm - on a report or live connection. Information has to go through you as an emotion to reach people. It doesn't work without a drop of emotion, but you don't need to tremble so much that it interferes with your work. 90 percent sense, the other 10 is for the excitement.


How did you get into journalism?

My mother graduated in pedagogy, teaches biology and chemistry, my grandfather was a primary school teacher for 40 years, my cousin is in the same family profession. And I wanted to follow in their footsteps, I imagined that I could handle it. Then I realized that huge responsibility and patience are required. Already in the 8th grade, almost all classmates decided that they would study abroad - it was logical for us, since we studied English for 8 hours a day. When I had to apply, it became clear that Scotland waives the university fee for EU citizens. The student loan made me give up on England.


Were you torn between two majors?

No. Just journalism. Even in the first two years, we focused on practice - reports, teamwork, printing. It was important to make sure I could do them. In the third and fourth years we emphasized theory and general culture.


Weren't you tempted to stay?

After graduating with a degree in Journalism and an MA in International Relations, I applied to the BBC. I made it to the second round and COVID-19 hit. BBC closed the internship program, at was all over. While the pandemic was going on, there was no need for me to stay in Aberdeen and wait for some miracle. In their regional newspapers, I could not compete with the locals, with their acquaintances and opportunities. Although while I was still studying, I did a week's internship with the Evening Express and they ran an article of mine signed with my name - about JK Rowling and the beginning of Harry Potter. So, I went home to Shumen to my mother's delight. She was terribly worried about what I would be doing in Aberdeen while everything was closed due to the pandemic. She is the closest person to me; I didn't want to burden her unnecessarily and got on the plane. After the quarantine of 14 days, I decided that there is no reason to stay at home. I applied to BNR Shumen. I went to an interview; they liked me and hired me. I led the news, went on reports. Most of them were related to the pandemic - there were no more places in the hospital in Veliki Preslav, and because the topic was hot, it also became popular in Sofia. It was difficult, but it pushed me into health and social problems - five months at Radio Shumen.


What was your first story as a bTV intern?

It was about cards drawn by children for doctors in a COVID ward.


Covering the earthquake in Turkey became a landmark in your career. How did you manage?

With enthusiasm and motivation to make it professional. Adrenaline helped. At first, I was shocked by the scale of the disaster. I began to tremble in front of the pile of concrete and all sorts of debris - parts of children's rooms with scattered textbooks, teddy bears and everything you can imagine that exists in a normal human home. I was also shocked by the relationships between people. They were extremely united and sympathetic. Complete strangers hugged each other as they waited for their relatives to emerge from the rubble if they were lucky enough to do so. The tragedy brought them together, together they found the strength to overcome it. But it was no less shocking that some of the buildings collapsed also because of human error, because of the dodging of norms, laws, conscience, and responsibility. Much of the horror was preventable. How is it possible to build in such a way as to threaten lives?! It was like a war, an unseen and unheard catastrophe - medicine and food were lying on the pavement in the streets. They gave to anyone who needed it. Cameraman Ognyan Krastev and I were also poured soup and brought bread. We became one of them. Three days after I returned to Bulgaria, all this shook me. The emotion gripped me so much that I stopped functioning - I didn't want to, I couldn't continue in my normal rhythm. I felt guilty for doing what I wanted, for being happy, because I knew what was left behind in Turkey. Now, looking at the footage of the war between Israel and Hamas, I am reminded of the Earthquake in Turkey. I had a very hard time getting that image out of my mind. I still tear up when I tell it.


What story of yours changed someone's life?

It was on the news: about a woman who was recently discharged from hospital after COVID-19. She was supposed to be on home oxygen therapy, but there were no machines. Her daughter contacted us and asked us to inform about the shortage. I started calling around and found a warehouse where they shipped the device from. Maybe if it wasn't for me, someone else would have done the job, but in the end, it was me who was involved in saving a human life. This can't help but make me cry, make me happy. That's why I'm not giving up reporting. I tell personal stories, and Mityo focused on the National Assembly. I recently introduced Dr. Mohammad Eik - he worked at the BAS, he also has a pharmacy, he lived in Algeria, but he has been in Bulgaria for a long time. A person infinitely familiar with what is happening in the conflict between Israel and Hamas. Through his stories - his own and those of his relatives in Israel - we presented a more complete picture. Every conflict has two sides - nobody wants war, but the truth is born from dispute.


Do you have girl company?

Yes, the one from Shumen. All of them are in Sofia. Unfortunately, we get together less often. But with one of my friends - Stephanie, she is a financier, we talk after every broadcast. She is very objective - she always says what she thinks, what she likes, what she lacks in the show, in leading us. Her opinion is very valuable to me. Only the truth, and I rely on it. I see Stephanie at least once a week. You have to force yourself to have live communication - it is now much more difficult to achieve because of social networks.


What girly pampering do you indulge in?

A glass of wine with Steffy once a week.


The entire story by Albena Atanasova can be found in the November issue of DIVA magazine, which is on the market from November 8, 2023.