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Comedian Fabio Abraham dives in the skin of Egyptian President Abdel Nasser

The Italian-Egyptian actor Fabio Abraham will play the mythical Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser for a docudrama series soon to be broadcast on CNN.

Fabio Abraham is an actor of Italian-Egyptian origin. After growing up on the outskirts of Cairo, where he studied accountancy and business administration, he moved to the United Kingdom in the early 2000s to start a career as an actor. Since then, he has carved a name for himself in British and international cinema, even winning Joe Bol Exquisite magazine’s Actor of the Year” award in 2015 after his role in the independent film Afua’s diary: a romantic comedy about immigration and diaspora. He is also the Arabic voiceover of Walt Disney’s cartoon Aladdin, and will soon play the famous Egyptian President Gamal Abd Nasser in a dramatic documentary series telling the history of Jerusalem on CNN.

What inspired you to embrace a drama career?

It was my dream since I was 4 years old, when I went to the cinema for the first time with my parents to see a movie from our egyptian legend Adel Imam.And I was mesmerized that everyone is just focused so much on this big massive screen. It was a kind of magic that hit me, and I was dreaming to be this guy on the screen one day. The second time was at the age of 7, when a director came to my primary school searching for a child to play a hero role in a theater play for kids. He looked at me and said “come over here! How good are you to pronounce arabic?”. I did well and he took me on board on his play. This was the beginning.

What were your debuts on screen?

That came in 2014 when I started the indie movie Afua’s Diary. It is a romantic comedy based on a true story that happened to a rich british millionaire. I was playing him. When we finished the film and took it to the cinema, some politicians asked for a private screening, so we started to be scared because nothing was political about the movie. They invited all the crew to the cinema and took notes during all the screening. When it was finished, they congratulated us and just left without a word. Two weeks later, David Cameron, prime minister at this time, said he was inspired to set a new immigration law based on the film. From here, it went everywhere. We actually changed something in the british life. It was amazing.

Have you ever felt limited in your career because of your Arab look? Do you feel the situation started to change in the cinema industry?

I remember that when I was working on the Bill, one of the most famous british TV series, I was talking to the director, and he could hear me trying to boost my english accent. He told me “ Listen Fabio, never try to change yourself because you are blessed that your look covers massive parts of planet earth and can offer you a lot of roles. Don’t try to change your accent because it is your strong point.” He said that famous actors like Omar sharif or Arnold Scwharzeneger were very successful as they were, with their accents and that they became stars because of who they are. So I listened to the advice of the first director I worked with and I never allowed these negative thoughts to come to my mind. Today I’m more desired and hired for who I am, my career is booming and thanks god I have this look and accent, and I’m proud of them all.

How did you prepare for the role of Gamal Abd el Nasser?

The role was a bit difficult because two things were going in my mind. The first is that a lot of superstars have done it before me, some legends like Ahmad Zaki or Magdy Kamel. So I started to watch a lot of documentaries and to read a lot of books about him, his upbringing and childhood, just to understand his mentality. My second concern was about the look and if I would be able to look like him, but thanks to the amazing makeup team, it worked. I was amazed.

Which actors are you inspired by?

Ever since I’m a child, I just love Al Paccino. Because of his charisma, his technicality and the way he portraits every single character he plays. Every movie he is doing is never the same, he dives in the skin of his own character and jumps out of his own soul. Also in Egypt, there are so many great actors I would love or would have loved to work with.

What role would you like to play in the future?

There are two roles I would love to play, and they are all egyptians. I would like to play the role of Adham Sabri from the book Ragol Al Mostaheel (The Man of the Impossible) and Nour El Deen Mahmoud which is a hero of a book series called Malaf Al Mostakbal (The future of file) from the author Nabil Farouk. Internationally, I love mostly doing complicated characters with layers and layers of personality like in Christopher Nolan work. He really sees things in a way that nobody can see.