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Egyptian actor Rami Malek sends out an important message at the #Oscars2019


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Born to immigrant parents from Cairo, Egyptian actor Rami Malek sent out an important message after accepting his Best Actor award at the Oscars last night.

Daniel Benavides from Austin, TX, CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons


Malek made history as the first Arab to receive the Best Actor Oscar, for his performance as Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody. During the backstage interviews, Malek expressed how he struggled with his identity as an Arab, despite being a first generation American:



“I will begin my saying Ahlan w sahlan. Forsa saeeda w manawar,” he said. [Translation: "welcome, this is a happy opportunity and the room is enlightened."]


“Mnawar beekon kolokon.” [Translation: "The room is enlightened by all of you"]


The Egyptian actor said this as a response to MTV Lebanon asking him to speak in Arabic. He continued to share his experience as a kid and how he struggled with his Middle Eastern background.  


“I think when I grew up as a kid, part of me felt like I needed to shed some of that," he said. "I didn't feel like I fit in.”


It was only when he got older that he realised how beautiful his culture and its traditions are, and could show his appreciation for “the wealth of culture and magic and music and film and just pure art that comes out of the Middle East.”


It's something that he says he is now "so privileged to represent.”


Malek also spoke about growing up in a world where playing the lead Mr. Robot seemed impossible.


“I never saw anyone in a lead role that looked like me," he said. "I never thought that I could possibly play Freddie Mercury - until I realised his name was Farrokh Bulsara.”


Malek explained that this was “the most powerful message that was sent to me from the beginning. That was the motivation that allowed me to say “oh I can do this”.”


Freddie Mercury, born Farrokh Bulsara, also came from Indian heritage with immigrant parents. Malek shared how Mercury was also struggling to identify himself, but used his passion, virtue, and burning desire to look everyone in the eye and say “hey I see you… I see all of you, and together we will transcend.”


The Oscars have been faced with ongoing controversy for their effort to celebrate diversity and inclusivity, so it was great to see Rami Malek accepting his award last night.


In his final words during the backstage interviews, Malek made it clear that “it is not about being from one place or looking like one thing, (or) one race.”


And that’s why it is so important to remember that Malek is the son of immigrants from Egypt, and that his story is just beginning now.


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