Today we’d like to introduce you to Amr Nabeel.
Amr, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I was born in Kenya and later on moved to Italy, where I grew up. From an early age, I had a passion for entertaining. Whether I was singing on a balcony for all my neighbors to hear; or putting up impromptu performances with my sister, re-enacting our favorite films. I needed to perform and create. I had done some community theatre in Rome, but I had a larger hunger that needed to be fed. When I was 15 years old, I left home and moved to the UK to focus entirely on my creative endeavors. I joined a performing arts school that pushed me further than I had ever gone in my acting development. It was completely new to me, a place saturated by artists. In my time there, I had the opportunity to fully concentrate on honing my craft and to develop my voice as an artist. Although I loved being in England, my instincts were pushing me to cross the pond and move to California. I came to L.A. to continue my acting training and to immerse myself in the industry. Since moving to L.A. I have met talented individuals and have spent my time focusing on creating original content.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Growing up in Rome, my family and I faced racism. In school, I had teachers who would spit in my face and physically hurt me. These painful experiences extended beyond the school walls. I remember my Grandmother and I being kicked out of a ‘cafe’ while the cafe owner called us ‘gypsies’. Another time, I had gone for an audition and the casting director had told me that a boy with my ‘complexion’ could not work in the industry. These experiences made me feel alienated, watching films was my escape. I also would impersonate and mock my bullies in front of my family, which looking back, I can see was the beginning of my acting career. However, over time I realized that my biggest challenge was myself. I had internalized a lot of the oppression that I experienced as a child. I would deny myself opportunities because I thought that someone that looked like me, didn’t deserve it or could not do it. In my teenage years, I would try to hide my ethnicity and cultural background. I saw it as a disadvantage. It took me many years to stand in my truth and to realize that what made me different, was my advantage. This has become a large part of my goals as an artist. I grew up feeling ‘unseen’ and ‘unheard’, and I hope that with the roles I play and the content I create, that I can be a voice for the voiceless.
What do you do, what do you specialize in, what are you known for, etc. What are you most proud of? What sets you apart from others?
I am an actor/singer/writer and producer. Throughout my life, I have trained as an actor and singer. I started my acting career in theatre/musical theatre and now I work mostly in film. However, since moving to L.A. I have been able to create my own short films and projects; this has opened up so many new channels to express my ideas. Over the last year, I have written, produced and acted in two short films (Find Me and 10 Minutes to Live). I also put up my first play this October, which I wrote and starred in. These projects have given me the opportunity to be involved in the entire production process and to learn from various people about what it takes to make ‘art’ happen. I seek to create stories that focus on themes or characters that are not typically represented on screen. My most recent film, ’10 Minutes to Live’, explores the story of a young closeted Arabic man, who struggles to find self-acceptance. I grew up watching basic stereotypes of Africans and Arabs in films and TV. Therefore, in ’10 Minutes to Live’ I wanted to break those simple stereotypes, by showcasing an Arabic character in a narrative that many can identify with regardless of where they come from or what they look like. I am interested in compelling stories and people. I create films that I would like to see and that I haven’t seen. In my work, I aim to start conversations that people typically avoid. We live in a time where we are seeing a lot of division, and the only way for us to begin to heal is to have conversations. I find it important to step outside of ourselves and to consider where someone else is coming from, which is what film (art in general) does; it forces us to look at life through someone else’s perspective.
What is “success” or “successful” for you?
My criteria for success is if the work I create generates a reaction. Regardless, if someone likes or dislikes the work, I hope it sparks something in them. My indicator of success is seeing if people cared about what they have watched; whether they love it or hate it, the ‘work’ has triggered a response. Everyone will have an opinion about your work, and that comes with the territory of being an artist in the public sphere. So, it is important to stand by what you create and to be proud of your efforts. Once my work is out there, it’s open to the public to respond. I enjoy positive reviews (as anyone does), but I also appreciate people’s criticisms and opinions; because it means that the work has impacted them enough to begin a conversation.
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/amrnab4/
Misti Morningstar, New York Film Academy