CAIRO - 27 October 2018: Outspoken is an understatement when it comes to actor, rapper and director Ahmed AlFishawy. A multitalented artist who is unapologetic, creative and quite the hard worker, the younger Fishawy is controversial, but there is no question about his talent and ingenuity.
Born in 1980 to actors Farouk AlFishawy and Somaya El Alfy, he has been in the spotlight since he was a child; so much so, that he more often than not just forgets them altogether and does solely what he feels is true to who he is. His first professional role was in 2000 with the one and only Faten Hamama in her last soap opera Wagh El Kamar (The Face of the Moon), playing the part of her son and garnering attention to the young talent. His first leading role came in Afareet El Sayala (El Sayala’s Ghosts) TV series in 2004, and then on the big screen, playing the lead role in El Hassa El Sab’aa (The Seventh Sense) in 2005.
From then on, Fishawy proceeded to present one successful, and unconventional, movie after the other, including Wara’et Shafra (Coded Paper), Zay El Naharda (Like Today), Sa’a w Nos (One and a Half Hours), Wahed Sefr (One to Zero), and Telk Al Ayam (These Days). His movies discuss various issues, from sexual harassment in the eye-opening 678, to gender roles in Hatouly Ragel (Get Me a Man). One of his most impressive performances, and a turning point in his career, came in his role in the movie Welad Rizk (Rizk Sons). His latest movies include Sukar Mor (Bitter Sugar), El Erd Beyetkalem (The Monkey Talks), Youm Lel Setat (A Day for Women), and his latest, and one of the most brilliant works presented lately, Sheikh Jackson.
In an exclusive seminar with Egypt Today staff, the young actor, who has a daughter from a pervious marriage, and just celebrated his marriage to his current wife this summer, opens up about his personal and professional life.
Tell us about your latest movie Gunshot
Gunshot is a suspense thriller that I expect will achieve success. I play the role of a physician in the movie, which is a role I never played before. I prefer to leave [other details] as a surprise for the audience, but I promise them an amusing movie; the makers exerted a great effort in it. Gunshot was premiered at the second edition of El Gouna Film Festival, it was out of the official competition.
In general, what do you like and dislike about your character?
That’s a crazy and unexpected question! Well, I don’t usually talk about myself a lot, but maybe the things I like about myself are that first, I love my job and I give it 100 percent of my effort. I give all I can give in my profession, I always try to be the best at it. I had a few negative points; I was a very careless kid, but I am not a kid anymore, and I am not getting any younger, I am 37. I was also not on time most of the time. But I changed. You see, I came to the seminar just in time!
Do you believe that transparency, or in other words being frank, is key for an actor to build an intimate relationship with his audience, or it is a double-edged sword?
It’s like what you said, it’s a double-edged sword. But at the end of the day, I say what is in my heart and what I am convinced of, not what everybody wants to hear. So maybe some people get shocked by the things I say or how I think, but the fact is that I really care about my beliefs and my thoughts. And at the same time I think my audience who really love me, love this the most about me; they say ‘we like Ahmed because Ahmed is frank, Ahmed will answer honestly, whatever the question is.’
Are you paying an expensive bill for being frank?
Actually, I don’t mind and I don’t care because, like I told you, I care for my fans and my fans take me as I am. I believe in the proverb that says ‘let the haters hate.’ Some haters actually motivate me to do things that are better and more shocking, and [present] different ideas, especially in my films.
Your movie El Erd Beytkalem (The Monkey Talks) achieved unexpectedly high revenues, even higher than other box-office movies showing at the time, like Mohamed Ramadan’s movie. From your point of view, what are the factors that affect the audience’s taste?
I think Egyptian audiences are hungry for more, they are hungry for different types of movies because the movies that used to succeed in the past 20 years are either comic or action movies. There were no films with historical stories, or with love stories like Hepta, which achieved huge success.
A suspense movie like Gunshot is going to be something extremely different, and that’s what people wait for. Egyptian cinemagoers now wait for different types of films; like horror, comedy, action, suspense, historical, romantic movies …they are waiting to see more. I think this is what makes me happy as a filmmaker, because now Egyptian audiences want to see any kind or any genre. They are willing to go and watch any good movie, not only comedy and action. As a filmmaker I don’t search for difference, I make this difference.
In just in one sentence; what is your philosophy in life?
I don’t have a philosophy in life; I am not a philosopher. I wish I was, I would have been smarter then. I believe that every one of us should always try his best to be humble and learn more and learn from our mistakes to do better deeds in the future.
What does working out change in your character?
You know I had never played any kind of sports in my life since I was a kid. So I started working out after 35 years, and it changed my life because it lets out the bad energy and anger, and I sometimes have a lot of that.
What do women represent in your life?
A lot of people say women represent half the world, but I think like a rapper once said, women make men, so I think women are not just half the world, they are the whole world.
Which role do you consider a milestone in your career?
I consider Sheikh Jackson a big milestone in my career, I didn’t know another one will come right after it, which is Gunshot. It is coming out at the same time that Sheikh Jackson was released last year, so I am very excited about that.
You are an untraditional father, tell us more about your relationship with your daughter Lina?
We are more of friends now. I am married to Nada Elkamel AlFishawy, and she has two daughters, so now I have three daughters; Lina, Lilian and Mariam. They are all girls, I love girls! Fatherhood is a great thing for me.
Ordering kids to do something by force will not get you anywhere because kids need to experience. They need to grow up and have their own experiences, not their parents’ experiences.
What has fatherhood changed in your character?
I see Lina grow up and I say I am not getting any younger either, so it made me more relaxed and calmer than I used to be.
I will tell you some names and you tell me what they represent to you:
Farouk AlFishawy: He is the kindest man I met in my life, I can tell you that
Somaya el Alfy: She is a great mother and she is a great friend too.
Nada Elkamel: She is everything to me.
Lina, Mariam and Lilian: They are what makes me really happy in life, when I see them grow and when I see them happy.
What does Egyptian cinema need to compete internationally?
I think Egyptian cinema is now doing what it really needs to do; which is always [presenting] fresh ideas, young writers, directors, actors and producers. Now we have a lot of new films coming out by young filmmakers, and this is exactly what we need to compete globally, and it is happening right now.
Did you perform in plays before?
I performed in few plays produced by the Egyptian National Theatre such as King Lear, The King is the King, The Barber of Baghdad. I really enjoyed them. I love being on the stage.
What does rapping represent to you?
Rap before was all about sex, money and drugs; but now it is different. Rap is now about expressing the streets, expressing what people really feel.
Which of your rap songs is your favourite?
My favourite is Ekramy.
Who is your favourite international actor?
Who is your favourite Egyptian actor?
Who is your favourite female actress?
I like many, this is a really hard question, but I can say Ruby.
Which director would you like to work with?
On the international level, Tim Burton, but on the local one, I wish to work with Karim el Shenawy, Gunshot’s director, one more time because it was a great experience. I think he is going to be one of the best and most significant directors, maybe in the world, not just in Egypt.
Did the rapid changes that occur in Egypt over the past few years on the political and economic level affect you as a filmmaker ?
People started to say what they really feel and try to express themselves more, I think Egyptians realised that we need to make the change and not just sit there and ask for someone to make the change for us.
Would you have been an actor if you were not the son of Farouk AlFishawy and Somaya el Alfy?
I don’t think so, I would have done anything else probably.