Meral Okay, a well-known Turkish scriptwriter and occasional actress who wrote some of the most popular TV shows in Turkey, died on Monday.
Okay, who had been battling lung cancer for the past nine months, died early on Monday at her home in İstanbul, the Anatolia news agency reported. She was 53.
Okay was born in Ankara in 1959. She worked as a civil servant for five years in various state institutions before marrying screen and stage actor Yaman Okay in 1984, only to lose him nine years later to cancer at the young age of 41.
After the death of her husband in 1993, Okay turned to writing and worked at the Günaydın daily. She also wrote for several magazines as well as penning song lyrics.
Her breakthrough came in 1998 with her role as a female butcher on the popular TV show “İkinci Bahar” (Second Spring) among a star-studded cast that also included Türkan Şoray and Şener Şen. The series ran for three years until 2001, after which Okay wrote the story for the immensely popular TV show “Asmalı Konak” (The Vine Mansion), which transported her to the level of stardom among Turkey’s TV screenwriters. In 2004 she co-wrote a mini-series called “İstanbul Şahidimdir” (İstanbul is My Witness).
More recently Okay was writing the script for the highly popular historical drama “Muhteşem Yüzyıl” (The Magnificent Century), the second season of which is currently airing on Star TV every Wednesday.
Culture and Tourism Minister Ertuğrul Günay, in a message of condolence issued on Monday, said he was immensely saddened by Okay’s death. “We are all deeply shaken as her glittering eyes that were full of life have now been shut forever,” Günay said in his message. “Okay holds a special place in the hearts of the [Turkish people] with her highly regarded writing and [on-screen] roles,” said the minister, adding that Okay will always be remembered for her smiling face and humble personality.
Okay will be buried on Tuesday at the Zincirlikuyu Cemetery in İstanbul following the noon prayer at the Bebek Mosque.