Who is Nabilla Benattia?
She’s a 22-year-old reality TV star and model.
Why has she been in the news?
She was arrested on Friday for an alleged knife attack on her boyfriend Thomas Vergara that left him in a "serious condition" in hospital. Nabilla is due to be questioned on suspicion of "attempted murder." Her arrest has shocked the world of entertainment in France and knocked François Hollande off the top of the news agenda on Friday.
(Nabilla with boyfriend Vergara. Photo: AFP)
Tell me more about her
She may have started as a reality TV star, but Nabilla has become a celebrity in her own right. She has been all over French TV, magazines and social media ever since a clip of her from 'The Angels of Reality TV' went viral.
During an episode from season five of the show, which brings together former stars of other French reality TV shows in a large house in Florida, Nabilla discovered – to her horror – that one of her female housemates had not packed shampoo in her suitcase.
Nabilla’s on-camera reflections on this revelation, in the ‘confession room’ of the house, sparked an online tornado. Here’s the video – in it, Nabilla is saying:
“Hello? No but like, hello? You’re a girl and you don’t have any shampoo? Hello? Hello? Are you receiving me? You’re a girl and you don’t have any shampoo? That’s like saying you’re a girl and you don’t have any hair.”
The original video of her “Allo quoi” rant has garnered more than 2 million views on YouTube, and inspired parodies and video mash-ups involving Die Hard, The Hobbit, and Adolf Hitler, as well as Twitter accounts and advertising campaigns, including one by Ikea.
According to France’s intellectual property institute, Nabilla has even applied for a trademark on the entire phrase.
Since then she has dominated the gossip magazines, modelled for Jean Paul Gaultier, declared that she wants to be “a businesswoman like Kim Kardashian” and, in the first step towards this, launched her own clothing line in September.
Where did she come from?
Nabilla is originally from Geneva, and has an estranged father who is a French-Algerian civil servant in the UN.
Her mother is Swiss-Algerian-Italian, allegedly the daughter of a Swiss countess, and has been publicly supportive of Nabilla during her recent fame.
In 2011, she got on to the French reality TV show 'Love is Blind'. In her audition tape, she described herself as a “languages student and model in my spare time” whom men have “always wanted”.
In 2012 , she featured on the fourth season of 'Angels of Reality TV', in Hawaii, and from there "graduated" to the show’s fifth season.
Nabilla was previously imprisoned for a month in her home country of Switzerland in 2009 for a fraud case.
What are her most prominent traits?
Confidence is one. Nabilla appears not to be particularly plagued by self-doubt. Neither is she afraid to engage in the odd exhibitionist display, or melodramatic on-screen fight, to keep the focus on herself.
Honesty is another. She doesn’t waste time claiming she wants to be "respected as an artist" in her own right. She is unrepentant in wanting to become an “It-girl”, “a businesswoman like Kim Kardashian”, and a superstar model in the United States.
Also, it would be hard to ignore the fact that Nabilla has undergone cosmetic surgery – she once called her breasts “the best investment I’ve ever made”.
An interest in history may be further down the list. In one episode of 'Angels', Nabilla described a fight among housemates as being akin to “the World War of ’78".
On another occasion she was widely attacked as conceited after describing her deliberate aloofness in social situations: “If I don’t know you, I’m not going to mix with you. Eagles don’t fly with pigeons.”
What does she have to say for herself?
“My face is totally natural. Thanks mum! Thanks dad! As for my chest – that was a little gift, when I was 18,” she told the ‘Grand Journal’ programme on Canal Plus television.
What do others say about her?
“In the last few weeks she’s become a media icon. And for what? For basically nothing…She is [along with Frigide Barjot] the symptom of an overall media cancer,” said Valentin Spitz, cultural commentator from French daily Le Nouvel Observateur.
Stéphane Joffre-Roméas, producer of ‘Angels of Reality TV' said: "She’s a bimbo, but she’s glamorous in the extreme, and very funny. She has a big heart, and takes life as it comes."
This article has been updated since it was first published in April 2013