A modern gentleman is just a truthful and honest human being because in the end that’s all we can ask to become. We had the amazing opportunity to speak to one of Egypt’s rising stars; actor Ahmed Malek as he opened up about his challenge with his artistic integrity, his newfound fame and the trapping of success.
Your career kicked off at a very young age, what were the challenges you faced?
The challenges you face are ongoing; it doesn’t end at a certain point. You always face challenges, but my only challenge is probably my career and how I pursue the craft of acting. Of course challenges differ from one person to another, but I always say that in a way the acting life chose me, and I suddenly found myself in the midst of all of this. It’s all growing with me and helping me grow. Acting is something you have to take on with all your heart so you can bring out the most truthful feelings possible, and so I guess that was also a challenge. But overall the word ‘challenge’ is very philosophical and can be approached in many different ways.
Who is your role model when it comes to acting, and what did you learn from this person?
I don’t have a role model. I don’t believe that people should have role models. I’m not going to say ‘Be Yourself’ because that’s a very hard thing to achieve. It’s a very long journey; some people die not knowing who they truly are. Being yourself is a journey that requires a lot of dedication and digging deep enough to actually be able to say “Yes, I actually reached who I am truly meant to be.” But going back to role models, we can say that some people pushed hard for their careers and you would one day like to do the same. Daniel Day-Lewis is someone whom I admire their dedication and aspiration.
In just a few short years you have starred in some of the biggest films and TV series in Egypt such as “Clash” and “El Sheikh Jackson” (both of which reached international fame). How does it feel to have your career grow so fast?
It’s a bit scary because you feel like you’ve given a lot and it’s still not enough. But at the same time it’s not scary because it’s growing fast, I take it one step at a time. I go for whichever project comes my way and watch the results as they unfold. And when presenting my part, all I can try to do is be the most truthful version of myself. In other words, I always want to bring out a different aspect of myself so I too can discover it. I believe that when you surprise yourself you can also astonish your audience. When your goal is to work for yourself, the outcome is better than when you’re doing a role just for the audience.
How do you prepare for a role you’re going to play?
There is no specific way to prepare for a role. Each role has its complete different circumstances and approach. Until now I don’t have a certain way that I go by and I don’t think that there is just one certain way. Each time a role touches me somewhere, I go with it to reach the demands of the character. Once I come to understand what my character likes, I become more comfortable and adaptable to that role.
Which of your performances is your favorite so far and why?
I don’t have a favorite performance. Each one has its own taste and has its own quality. Like stated before, I give each role my all and different aspects of myself. But I usually don’t like my performances because I always feel like I didn’t give it enough effort and I want to give it more. I never watched myself and was impressed. I’m always thinking to myself how I could have improved that performance.
Do you have any preference between TV and cinema?
If I had to choose one of both, I would without a doubt go with cinema. It’s more exciting and livelier to watch something up close and new. The whole vibe of it is more exciting.
What advice would you like to give young aspiring actors?
Theatre. Definitely start with theatre. It will help you learn a lot. Also go for acting for the sake of the craft and not for the sake of what comes with it. If you want to start acting for the fame and money, which I call the pollution of the scene, never go for the stardom and the light. Just go for the blood, not the skin.
In your opinion what is the definition of a modern gentleman?
I’m against putting people in frames, for example calling guys ‘gentlemen’ and women ‘nice ladies’. Labels don’t exist except in our heads. So to put it in context, a modern gentleman is a human being that is empathetic and truthful and also has his flaws and mistakes and isn’t ashamed to admit that he has them. They also won’t do something for their image unless it benefits their true self.
What is your next project?
My next project is a movie called “Def” with Hady El Bagory as the producer and Khaled El Sawy, Sherine Reda and Jamila Awad as my co-stars; that’s as much as I can tell you for now. To know more about it, you’ll have to wait and watch it!