Our cover star for this Ramadan issue is just as special as our annual edition. He is not just an acclaimed comedian who fills our hearts with joy and happiness but he also enjoys great popularity and has an ethereal glow like no other. Egypt Today was delighted to sit down with the hilarious Akram Hosny to chat about the debut of his artistic career, his milestones and his highly popular series Maktoub Alaya.
1-People mistakenly think that the comedian is someone who laughs and jokes 24/7. Tell us about the man behind the comedian Akram Hosni.
Yes this is true, I definitely don’t laugh and joke 24/7, but that doesn’t mean I am gloomy (he laughs). I am an extremely simple person who has his own problems, hardships and sometimes passes by difficult times like everyone else. But my main profession is to entertain people and make them happy so I forget anything when I stand in front of the camera.
2-You are an entertainer in every sense of the word: an actor, singer, composer, screenwriter, and TV presenter. How did you work on yourself to succeed across all these fields, and all in parallel? If you had to choose just one, which would it be?
Thanks for seeing me as a multi-talented entertainer, I only hope I can live up to everyone’s expectations. I started my media career as a radio presenter on Nogoom FM then I started portraying Abou Hafiza in Asaad Allah Masa’akom. At the beginning I took acting workshops to enhance my performance, to learn to be in command of my emotions and facial expressions. I learned how to write songs by experience. As for composing music I can’t say that I am a composer, but while I am writing songs sometimes some music that conveys more my words jumps to my mind.
What I can say is that it is all about passion, I love everything that I am doing and I hope it is well received by people. I love doing all of the previous things but if I had to choose one it would be making songs. The mechanics of song making are very appealing and enjoyable for me, from writing the song to choosing music, because in general when I am not in the mood I listen to music. Music is a very important thing in my life.
3-Your first radio interview was with legendary actor Adel Imam, at that time you had to make a difficult decision so you could succeed—what’s the story behind that first experience?
It was my first mission as a radio presenter after I quit my job as a police officer. I was covering a movie premiere and iconic actor Adel Emam was attending and I had to interview him. There were a lot of journalists, TV hosts and radio presenters, so I found that the only way to ask Emam was to get down on my knees so I could get the microphone closer to his mouth. My pride as an ex-police officer made me hesitate for like 10 seconds, but I swallowed my pride and told myself that if I wanted to be a successful radio presenter I’d have to do what any presenter would do in such a situation and it was a great lesson for me. Emam praised my performance and told me that I would be successful one day.
4-People knew and loved you as Abou Hafiza for a very long time. How did you manage to emerge from this character and go on to achieve huge success?
This is true, Abou Hafiza introduced me to people, and became a very popular character. I tried to convince producers to start working on other projects but Abou Hafiza for them was a safe bet and they didn’t want to take any risk. The man behind the real change was the director of the last three seasons of “Assad Allah Masa’akom” Ramy Rizkallah who advised me that if I wanted a break as an actor no one was going to give it to me except myself. He meant that I had to give myself the chance by appearing as myself in the artistic sketches of Assad Allah Masa’akom instead of hiding behind the character of Abou Hafiza. I was afraid that the audience might feel confused but I followed Rizkallah’s advice and gradually managed to shrug off Abou Hafiza’s persona. Being locked inside a certain character will negatively affect any artist.
5-Which role do you consider a milestone in your career?
Bahgat in Rayah El Madam because it was my first role as an actor after Abou Hafiza. Rayah El Madam was so special to me also because I worked with my lifetime dearest friend Ahmed Fahmy, he supported me and I owe him a lot. Fahmy is a big star he could have demanded a solo lead but because he is supportive and has self confidence we co-starred together in the series and it was a big success, perhaps because of this lovely friendship.
6-There is a lot of chemistry between both of you in front of the camera, do you have any future plans for joint projects?
There are always ideas of joint projects floating between both of us but we agreed that each one us of would finish his individual projects first and then we will work together again.
7-Tell us more about your first theatrical experience in Otl Fany (Technical Error) and now that you’ve been on stage and on both small and silver screens, which is you favorite medium?
There is no comparison between the three mediums, each has its own taste and audience, but one of my dreams was to perform on stage. I remember when I was a kid and my father used to take me to watch plays, I used to get up on the stage after the play ended to see the entire audience in front of me.
Acclaimed songwriter Amir Teima produced Otl Fany. He also co-wrote the script and wrote all the play’s songs. He asked me to join the cast along with Chico and Hisham Maged. Of course I agreed because it was a dream to co-star in a play, and Chico and Maged are my friends. The play ran during Riyadh Season and achieved huge success—it was originally planned to run for four nights but it was extended to 13 nights because it was fully booked. I really enjoyed this experience; there is huge chemistry between me, Chico and Maged. We are working currently to present Otl Fany here in Egypt because we want the Egyptian audience to watch it.
8-The main theme of Maktoub Alaya is being destined to our fates. How did you manage to discuss this profound concept within a comic format?
When Maktoub Alaya’s scriptwriter Ehab Beleibal told me the main theme of the series I immediately said yes let’s do it. The series as you said tackles an extremely deep and important thing to all of us whatever our age, generation or background—the notion of satisfaction, how we have to be satisfied with what we have and not what we do not have. God always grants us many gifts, but we are always dissatisfied and want more. To achieve happiness we should be thankful for what God gives us; this is the main message of Maktoub Alaya.
While we were preparing, director Khaled Elhalafawy, scriptwriter Ehab Belibal, producer Karim Abou Zekry and myself all agreed that we would present a comedy and entertaining series but at the same time we wanted to deliver this important message. It was like a difficult equation, and that’s why we worked a lot on this series to make every scene a comic one but at the same time deliver the main theme and people at the end will judge whether we’ve managed to succeed.
9-Behind the scenes what was it like working again with director Khaled El Halafawy and co-starring with Ayten Amer, Hanady Mehana, Amr Abdel Geleil and the rest of the cast?
One of the key factors of the success of Maktoub Alaya is its cast. We all care about each other, everyone is keen that the entire cast gives their best performance, not only caring about his or her role. We used to give each other advice and that was very constructive. Definitely working with veteran actors like Amr Abdel Geleil and Hanan Soliman enriched the series, the great sense of humor of Ismail Farghaly, Mahmoud El Sisi, Mohamed Teima and Hala Roushdy added a lot to the show. I don’t want to forget anyone; everyone was great ,especially under the supervision of the series’ maestro, the great director Khaled El Halafawy.
10-Which series are you following this Ramadan?
Unfortunately because I was busy shooting I wasn’t able to watch a complete series but I am planning to watch Geziret Ghamam because my friend and great actor Ahmed Amin gave a critically acclaimed performance. I will also watch El Ekhteyar, El Kebeer Awi season 6 because I miss El Kebeer. And I’ll be watching Faten Amal Harby too.
11-Like Galal in Maktoub Alaya, write a message to each of your following close friends and family.
Ahmed Fahmy: My dearest friend, my brother from another mother, God bless you always and to many more successes together.
Chico: You are my kind and close friend but please try to calm down a bit because you become nervous easily.
Hesham Maged: Love you my friend. May our friendship last forever.
Mohamed Mamdouh: Not because you are my friend but you are one of the most brilliant actors of our generation. Love you my friend.
Ahmed Amin: My friend who owns a kind, golden heart. A one-of-a-kind actor and human being, love you.
Your son: You are my hero and you will always be, I love you.
Your daughter: Please continue that beautiful girl inside out don’t change, I love you.
12-You’re known to be an open-minded father with your daughter, tell us more about that.
I always try to think the same way as Ruba, my daughter, because the way we were raised is not suitable for the current generations. We are good friends, I discuss with her things that I go through and she does the same. I put myself in her shoes and always ask myself if I am in her place and my father gives me a certain order or punishes me, would I accept it?