Beyond Acting – This is the Real Reason Why We (Gen Z-ers) Love Ahmed Malek

By: Salma Gharraf

As a feminist, a writer, a movie/series addict and an over-thinker (emphasis on the last one), I can’t help but aroo7 b fekry li b3eed while watching Egyptian movies. I often wonder if actors are genuinely as interesting as they appear to be on TV as they are in real life. Many celebrities are foreign to us, we only see them on our screens, magazine covers, and the odd charity project where they just smile, but we don’t know who they really are. We see nothing but glamour; fancy dresses, glitzy award ceremonies, and Hollywood smiles. It makes me wonder about their dirty side; the one without makeup and filters, without publicists curating their every word and move, just them, raw and human, just like us. 

Most celebrities and “influencers” are intangible so we can’t really claim that they influence or inspire us. Enter Ahmed Malek. Charismatic, honest, and real in ways so many people of influence are not. When we see Ahmed Malek, we don’t see “the persona”, we see the person, because he consciously chooses to show us that, consequences be damned. Which is the number one reason why we love him, but it’s definitely not the only one. 

First, let’s talk about his acting career. It is impossible to find Malek in a movie that has not shaken the foundations of one institution or the other. His roles are obviously meticulously picked; he appeared in Eshtebak, Eyar Nary, El Deif, Hepta, Leil Khargy and Sheikh Jackson (among others) – all films that can easily be described as groundbreaking. It is also important to mention his incredible role in Ramadan series La Totfe’ El Shams from two years ago; where his character became an icon, a representation of other people from his generation with similar issues and pressures. Of course, I doubt I need to say that the films he’s been involved in have been mentioned and/or nominated in festivals like CIFF, GFF, TIFF, and Cannes among other notable festivals alongside other fantastic artists and creators. This is not the important part though, what matters to me – to us – is that his roles are always accurate portrayals of young figures in our society and the stories he tells are not what we typically see on the screens, rather what we experience in real life. We appreciate that. 

still from Sheikh Jackson

In another respect, he’s also a compassionate human being. He raises awareness on noble causes and is said to be understanding, respectful, and gentle, but also brutally honest. Malek doesn’t wear a poker face, he’s extremely expressive and is never afraid to speak his mind. If you watch any of the interviews he’s done, he never acts like a “star” even though he has every right to, because if this generation of actors has a soon-to-be legend, it’s Ahmed Malek. 

still from El Deif

However, this is not what we see, for when he speaks of his career, he skips the accomplishments and heads right for how good acting makes him feel and how much he loves doing what he’s doing. There’s always so much passion, you’ll feel it from behind your laptop or phone screens, I promise. His energy is contagious, he’ll make you want to find something to be just as passionate about. There’s so much humility, in the way he walks and talks, in the way he dresses, it just has me in awe. It’s inspiring. Empowering. 

His words are never memorized, filtered or fake; they come from the heart. He’ll make you believe in yourself, in your dreams, and think “well, if he can do it why can’t I?”

You’d feel his love for his job, his commitment to it, his will and persistence to discover more about it, wanting to be as efficient as possible. Unlike artists his age, he doesn’t act like a “know-it-all”, but always asks himself questions, getting to know more about his profession and his purpose, searching for a meaning to what he’s doing here, and how he has to do it.

still from Hepta

He spoke in an interview with Keep Going Productions in their “Anti-heroes” series about social media and how much he dislikes it, telling us about his experience with bullying, both in his teenage years and now. He admitted to not not being able to stand up against his bullies back then, and to being affected by negative comments and tweets now. Revealing his insecurities, his actual feelings towards what’s being said about him shows courage and a raw side of him, that isn’t often represented by artists,that connects us to them on a personal level. Basically, he’s speaking about himself, but also about every young boy who’s afraid to talk about it because he’s “a man” and needs to “yestargel”. He never forgets to tell us to do our thing unapologetically, and take dislikes and critiques as fuel to do better, to be the newest changed version of ourselves, to improve because that’s what we’re here for.

still from La Totfe’ El Shams

He stated that often artists are portrayed as these perfect angels, who have everything figured out. The biggest house, the fanciest car, clothes, always smiling at the camera, judged at the slightest change that’s out of the norm. While – in reality – they’re only imperfect humans with problems who deserve to make mistakes and learn from them, in order to grow and know more about who they are and what their purpose is in life. 

He’s funny, always cracking jokes in the middle of his conversations, simple and genuine, you’d get a sense of familiarity while watching him, like he’s a friend, your friend, and that’s probably because he tries not to let fame get to his head. He wants to be real and authentic; to not forget about real life and end up lost between all the cameras and lights. Let’s not forget the fact that he’s a dancer ya’ll, he studied dance at Contemporary Arts Center of Cairo, so he could be more connected to his body, mentally and physically, to get to be a student again, like everyone else in the room, to get back on the ground. Again, points for humbleness and commitment.

still from Leil Khargy

He appreciates his fans, it’s not just a “thank you for these many followers on instagram” video/caption, or a couple of helium balloons and confetti thrown in celebration. He reposts their stories, shares fan drawings, actually takes the time to see them, to notice their efforts and support, to thank them for it. Most of the time celebrities either ignore them or show the ones who got the most likes, but he doesn’t.

Wara2a w alam w ektebi ma3aya ya set el kol: vulnerability shown on TV, stories of weakness, struggles and hardships. Growing out his hair and wearing it occasionally down or in his man-bun proudly, a big “fuck you” to anyone criticizing it. Training at dance school, because he believes it’s what’s best for his career, and more importantly, because he loves it, despite what any 14 year old wanna be man men eli beytakhano sothom dol and shove the phrase “ana ragel” in everyone’s faces, would comment on his posts. This is, honestly, the model example of non-toxic masculinity. This is what young boys need to grow up seeing, learning from, and taking as an example.This is what needs to be normalized nowadays, we’re not used to actors, or even males, doing so and we love Malek for that. 

still from La Totfe’ El Shams

Recently, a new face has appeared during Ramadan, Hassan Malek, Ahmed’s brother, and I can’t wait to see what this young man has in store for us in the future. Malek, if you ever read this, Hi lol. We love you, we appreciate what you do, and never change who you are. Thank you for representing and empowering us and the coming generations.

Editor’s Note: P.S we’re salivating for an interview. So, if you read this and don’t mind being interviewed by a bunch of teen girls, we’d love to have a chat!

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