Your upcoming series Living the Dream - in a few words, what
is it about?
Living the dream (Arab Hollywood) is about a group of friends
all of who come from Arab descent and came to Hollywood to pursue their
goals and achieve their dreams. They are all extremely talented media professionals who
are committed to make a change to the status quo of how
actors from a Middle Eastern descent are portrayed in Hollywood.
How did the project come together in the
After major accomplishments by the minority
Hollywood Arab American actors, filmmakers & writers in Hollywood at
present (like Rami Malik, Mina Massoud Ayman – and of course previously
Omar Al Sharif), I believe that the world has regained a great interest in
this part of the world and is now ready to see more talent. We as a group
of talented actors, theatre art performers, filmmakers and writers who are
currently present and active in Hollywood wish to follow the steps of Rami
Malek & others, but through the Arab Hollywood Alliance so we can
we have more resounding effective and a wider successful presence at
It might sound like a stupid question, but
as an Arab in Hollywood, to what extent can you identify with the topic of
your movie, and any personal thoughts on the subject not covered by the
We are living the same story because Arab American
actors as the past few decades has shown in the Hollywood filmmaking industry
are mainly cast as terrorists or villains. So, the reality may suggest
that a talented Arab actor has no options or future in Hollywood but to be
a villain or a terrorist. Arab Hollywood is created to change this
reality that is ill-founded on a stereo type. I am optimistic and positive
about the impact Arab Hollywood shall have on the Hollywood
What are the main challenges getting Living
the Dream off the ground from a producer's point of view?
the right cast and making the story as dreamy as possible. Yet again, this
is achievable and realistic as we have to audience to English and Arabs
can you tell us about Living the Dream's writer/director Ayman
Samman [Ayman Samman interview -
click here], and what's your collaboration like?
is a producer too in this project and he is so professional, and such a
talented actor, director & script writer. I believe in him to be the
most Arab actor/filmmaker that Hollywood has seen. He knows exactly what
he wants and I can foresee his guaranteed success.
also appear in front of the camera in Living the Dream - so what
can you tell us about your character, and how do you prepare for your role
Fareed is a very interesting character. He is a
Lebanese who grew up in Italy most of his life and has moved with his
family to California. Luckily, I speak Italian. And he is in love with
Salwa the female lead, so my mission is first to win her heart and whilst
being a very shy character. In preparation for the character I have spent a
lot of time with my Lebanese friends to familiarise myself with both the
culture as well as the accent. So, now I am spending a lot more time with
my Lebanese friends and learning to sing in Lebanese accent, which is great
as they have fantastic songs and a fantastic culture and am always after stories
from Lebanon to know what it is like to grow up between 2 countries. I am
also a big fan of Mika who is a singer of Lebanese origin and who is currently a superstar in
Italy. Indeed he is a great inspiration for
dedication and success.
Do talk about the rest of your cast, and as a
producer, how much of a say did you have when it came to casting?
the casting, I believe in Ayman's choices so far as he is the producer in
the project. So far I am loving all the cast. We are still casting and I
trust we have a class A Arab American cast.
what stage of production is Living the Dream currently, and what's
the schedule? And any idea when and where it might be released, however
We are in the development stage right now and
after confirming with big names, so we are super sure that they will add an
immense positive effect to the project, especially when the 22 Arab
countries are represented.
You've also recently been in a short film, Al-Masry
Life - so what's that one about, and what can you tell us about your
character in it?
Al-Masry Life is short film starring the
Hollywood actor Sayed Badreya as well as myself, it is a father and son
story. An Egyptian citizen left Egypt 40 years ago when Egypt was a
country that kept its customs and traditions. His hometown Port Said never
left his mind and the further he goes the more he gets attached to his childhood memories. Despite creating a new life in America, successful
work, and a lovely family, he is still attached to all of his country's
news as if he still lived there. He smiles for the good news and feels
sorrow for the bad ones. His heart is still very joyful with memories from
the past. He implanted the love of his country in his son, and drew its
features through his face. His son, who is American born, lives by the
more practical American spirit that lacks some love to the past. The son
finally rebels against the state of mind his father lives in (between here
and there – the past and the present). It is a conflict between two
minds, my character is 2nd generation American which are usually struggling
with their identity especially living between 2 worlds.
Do talk about your character in that
one, and what did you draw upon to bring him to life?
find it easy to relate to the character, I am an Egyptian-born who grew up
in England and sometimes I experience the human identity struggle.
Personally, I live as both and by the best values of both, which makes me
did you get involved with that project in the first place?
worked with Sayed many times in the past and it was always great pleasure.
We filmed together in London and he's such an amazing actor/filmmaker who
is always active and full of ideas. We talked about making another short
film and it shall come to life in due course.
can you tell us about Al-Masry Life's co-star and co-director Sayed
Badreya, and what was your collaboration like?
It always a pleasure and a special experience to collaborate with the
superstar Sayed, he is super passionate about this, his passion come with 40 years of experience in the
industry working with the best in Hollywood like Michael Mann, Peter Farley and James Cameron, and working for big movies like
Independence Day and the main villain in Iron
Man and Three Kings and You Don't Mess with Zohan.
Sayed is full energy and I have learned a lot from him and we have a great relationship like father and son and I am lucky to have such a person in my career and life.
Life is a mostly improvised movie - so to what extent does this
influence your acting (apart from the obvious), how does this compare to
doing a scripted film, and which of the two do you prefer, actually?
I studied acting in London and we were always told to respect the writer and not to add or remove any word unless is approved, so this
has limited me a bit.
Life it was different because I didn't have to worry about the script and it was all done from the heart. I prefer improvisation considering my start as a TV
host who didn't have a fixed script and the nature of my show was to improvise.
talk about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
The shoot was fantastic as it was
one take. We used 98% of the footage taken by the talented Shakeel Bin Afzal who is a talented filmmaker and cinematographer. Thanks a
million to him and to his amazing job. Shakeel worked with the biggest names in Bollywood and in England and it was such smooth sailing as they say
you can tell us about audience and critical reception of Al-Masry Life
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
Everyone who has seen the short film has so far loved it. The Oscar winner for this year Peter Farley watched it and loved it.
He said “Sayed and Mico had a great acting and I loved it when you both pop on the screen. I got emotional watching the car scene, you know why?
Because the acting was so good and you guys got a gem.”
The film has been admitted into 2 festivals so far. To be honest we are hoping to make it to the Oscars this year.
else you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
are happy to be able to create more for other Arab American actors and
move forward. This is just the end of the beginning if I can rightly
for the interview!
I am grateful
for your time and for the interview