On Saturday, June 11th, 2011 an American Film Institute (AFI) Graduate Student Short Film named “Thief” won the most prestigious prize in the world that a student film can win! Thief won the Gold Medal Award in the Narrative category from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences aka the Oscars.
Now, I had the honor and the privilege to play one of the main roles in the film. When I took on the project I had no idea how far it will go. I didn’t even know there was a Student Academy award! What I did know is that it had a good story and a very talented director and an amazing cast and crew. I remember showing up to the set in the Acton valley north of Los Angeles and being greeted by Julian Higgins (the director). He had a big smile of pride on his face and he said “let me show you the set!” So we walked through the valley and got to a little house they built in the middle of the desert. The house reminded me of my grandmother’s farmhouse in Egypt. That’s when I knew this was not a typical student film. The filming experience was a lot of fun! Having to learn the Iraqi dialect and just to be acting in Arabic in an American film shooting in Los Angeles made it very surreal.
Fast forward a year later, Thief started to get acknowledged in various film festivals as well as winning the first place drama in College Television Awards aka Student Emmy’s.
After the announcement of the Academy and as I was watching the film on the gigantic screen at the Samuel Goldwyn Theatre, I had a quick flash back to where I came from and where I am now. The kid that grew up in the alleys of Cairo, playing soccer in the gravely streets (that would be me), his face is now on a big screen between two giant golden Oscar statues. This is nothing short of a miracle! I am very blessed and humbled that when I finally did choose the path of a career that I love regardless of the socio-economic viability of it’s future, the pay off was almost instant and in incredible ways!
So, please, if you have a dream that you feel strongly about don’t let anything or anyone stop you from pursuing it. You are the master of your life and dreams do come true.