Born into a family of medics, actor and former TV presenter Mohamed Karim found himself attracted not to medicine but to the glamour of the silver screen. Today, he is finding fame not only at home but also in the U.S. and Europe.
by Sherif Awad
It’s not easy juggling careers across continents: the number of Egyptian actors who have managed to do it can be counted on the fingers of a single hand. But Mohamed Karim is one young up-and-coming star carving a name for himself across Europe and the United States while becoming a household name at home.
Born into a family of medics, Karim travelled, at the age of 18, to Los Angeles to complete high school. That time, he only saw America through classroom windows, as he was keen to score high grades that would pave his way into medical school in Egypt. Karim graduated with flying colors and returned to Cairo to complete his planhigher education as a doctor at Ain Shams University. He would travel to LA during summer vacations, and it was then that he began to follow what was going on with American filmmaking. By his third year at university, Karim had already started his journey into the entertainment business by presenting TV shows, making many TV commercials and appearing at modeling events.
In the span of just a few years, Karim has landed many successful television and cinema roles, in addition to his many noted appearances in international film festivals like Cannes and Dubai.
Karim fell in love with the filmmaking craft while vacationing in the US. He took an intensive acting course and was introduced to various Arab-American filmmakers, such as the late Mostafa Akkad who produced the Halloween horror series in order to raise money for Arab and Islamic-themed films like Omar Al-Mokhtar and Al-Ressala.
“I learned from Akkad that acting is a cumulative experience. He also advised me to study filmmaking to become a producer or director later in my career,” recalls Karim, who considers the last five years as the best of his career.
His starring role in the romantic comedy Facebook Romance, playing a young man who moves to Jordan following the 2011 Egyptian Revolution, landed Karim a Best Actor Award at the Monaco Film Festival.[caption id="attachment_470774" align="alignnone" width="620"] Karim accepeting the Best Actor award for Facebook Romance.[/caption]
The success of this film and his TV roles in Egypt drove Karim to accept an offer from MBC Group to become the presenter of the popular talent show The Voice in 2012. “I managed to boost my popularity during the two seasons of the show that was watched by 100 million viewers across 22 Arab countries,” explains Karim, who was named Best TV Presenter in an online poll organized by the Forum of Arab Media. Later in 2014, Karim was named Mitsubishi Brand Ambassador.
“After two seasons of The Voice and the acclaim that followed, I decided to focus on my acting career and so I declined the offer to present the third season,” says Karim, who mostly lived in Lebanon during the shooting of The Voice. “I was doing midweek’s shows and voiceovers and so it was impossible for me to accept any other film or TV offer till the two seasons were wrapped,” he explains.
This year Karim will focus on balancing his Egyptian/Arab career and his international roles. “I landed in California on New Year’s Eve to prepare the shooting of a new thriller called Cross Two directed by Patrick Durham,” reveals Karim. “I am happy that I am not playing an Arab character which will expand my casting chances the same way Omar Sharif was doing.”
While he is in California, Karim is planning to attend the 2016 Golden Globes. “I was at the Oscars and the American Film Market, which I consider two of the most important events for actors to socialize with Hollywood professionals. I remember meeting and talking to Kevin Costner when he was presenting The Company Men a few years ago, which was very inspiring,” says Karim, whose next projects include a film to be shot between the US and Egypt with Egyptian-American director Hesham Issawi as well as a new US film called The Sweet Summer.[caption id="attachment_470775" align="alignnone" width="620"] Karim at the Festival De Cannes.[/caption]