Whoever said great comedy comes from hardship and misfortune, got it right.

Not everyone was born with a silver spoon in his or her mouth; some people were brought without a choice to a life of hardship. But wealthy or penniless, it’s always up to us to remain in the dark or rise to a hall of fame. 

The world is full of influential rags-to-riches stories. From Oprah Winfrey, to Jk Rowling and Sylvester Stallone, they have it all now even though they had to start with nothing. In Egypt, we’ve also got our own share of those inspiring stories, but what makes ours even more special is that those people rose to fame by making fun of their reality and becoming our greatest Egyptian comedians of all times.

So let’s give it to those who were born less than ordinary but chose to be extraordinary:

1. Ismail Yassin


Our comedy mogul ‘abo de7ka genan’ didn’t exactly lead an easy as pie early life. His father went bankrupt and was jailed thus forcing him to leave school before completing his primary education. He worked as a parking valet to support himself, but never surrendered  to life’s obstacles. He used all he got: his voice, his acting skills and even his looks. He started his career as a monologue singer which eventually lead him to film acting, and we all know the rest of the story.


2. Ahmed Mekky


Mekky spent his childhood in a modest neighborhood called “Talbiya”. He had a go at almost all kinds of jobs and ran into several brick walls until he started working in a video rental store; that’s when the magic all began. He couldn’t help but fall in love with movies and therefore decided to join the High Institute of Cinema. He started directing movies which earned him international awards, and that was the first move to set the ball rolling and give rise to the actor/rapper/writer/director, the one and only Ahmed Mekky, who told the misfortune to go jump in a lake.


3. Ahmed Helmy


Helmy’s early life wasn’t a gilded existence; he grew up in Banha before moving to Cairo to work as an interior designer. The dimensions of his early apartment had been turned into laughing matter he likes to toss in his interviews today. Its toilet was situated under the shower spray and he had to share the water heater with the rest of his neighbours…

Things didn’t get much better when he started directing TV shows for children, but the turning point that introduced him to the acting world was meeting director Sherif Arafa who chose him for a supporting role in his movie Aboud Ala El Hodoud. The next thing we know, the boy whose dream was to be a “7antour” rider became the highest paid comedy actor of his generation.


4. Mohamed Henedy


Here comes the one actor who earned the title of the ‘Pioneer’ of young actors in leading roles back in the early 90’s. But this title didn’t come after a cakewalk; Heneidy is the perfect exemplar of the actor who took it one step at a time until he reached glory. He was born in Emababah, and had a passion for acting but failed several times to get into the business, until he bumped into Youssef Shahin. Shahin gave him a small role in his movie ‘Iskenderia… leh?’ and it was all the invitation Heneidy needed to launch into this world and become one of the greatest comedian stars of all times.


5. Alaa Waley El Din 

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When he started to show up in Adel Emam’s movies, his face became familiar to the audience. Everyone thought that Alaa Waley El Din would follow his father – Samir Waley El Din- ’s lead and become an actor whom we love but would never recall his name. But the small town actor didn’t settle for a brief period of fame; he aimed for stealing the show, and that’s what he did. Though his sudden death was a huge loss to the entire cinema industry, he will always be present in spirit while absent in body.

If we take a leaf out of these actors’ books, we will know that making something out of yourself doesn’t take hitting the jackpot. You only need to be patient, ambitious and hard working.