by Sherif Awad
Growing up, I went from rags to riches. I understood early on what it meant to go without. Later, I experienced the other side. This unique upbringing sensitized me to the plight of the poor. I recognized early on that I wished to be a vessel for change—to bring awareness to the plight of the poor and to bring love wherever I am.
-During my childhood and teen years, I didn’t watch much television or listen to music. I mainly read. I found solace in the world of wonder that sprang to life from the pages of countless authors. I fell in love with the written word.
-When it came to schooling, I was hooked. I went from College to University, earning a Community Worker Diploma, Addictions Counselling Diploma, Life Skills Coach certification, Life Coach certification, a Bachelor of Science Degree, a Masters of Social Work Degree and NLP Certification, certification as a Mastermind Facilitator, Therapeutic Healing Touch Practitioner, Light Priestess, Certified Trainer, Certification in Mega Branding and a World Cinema Academy Level I Graduate. As you will note from my accreditation and studies, I was not well versed in the world of acting. In fact, I went to school for a different type of drama…social work. I sought to help others help themselves. After a decade in the industry, it took a major toll on my mental health…I found myself worried about my clients and having sleepless nights and crying sessions, concerned over the welfare of my clients. I realized I had to switch vocations…but I didn’t know what to do…everything I had done in schooling had led up to social work…what else could I do?
I prayed to the Lord and received an answer. Working with the homeless, I started hearing from them that I should be in Hollywood. I thought it was the strangest thing, ‘Why are the homeless telling me I should be in Hollywood?’ However, after trying a myriad of other types of jobs—from teaching to insurance to temp agencies, I figured ‘Why not? I’ve tried everything else…’ I ended up responding to an ad on Craigslist seeking an actress for an infomercial. They asked me to come in for an audition and I booked the role! It was broadcasted nationally and I fell in love with the field. I realized that all of my schooling had given me a unique edge as I was able to understand the psychology of the characters I was playing and fell into it with ease.
-I am very satisfied now. I find the field to be incredibly cathartic. Every role I have played and every script has been unique and delicious…I find myself diving into the work and enjoying every moment. I love being able to bring the script to life and bringing my own interpretation and flair to the mix. Not having studied it professionally has enabled me to take direction well as I have no ego in the business—I am always learning and eager to learn more!
In regards to stardom, yes and no…I am very eager to achieve notoriety as I wish to bridge my fandom to my social justice side. I wish to be a voice for the voiceless——bringing awareness to the plight of the underdog. I feel that this field is a great platform to be able to raise awareness and cast a spotlight on issues that otherwise get cast aside. For that reason alone I seek a certain level of notoriety.
-In regards to being a female in this industry, certainly, there are challenges. I believe being a woman is challenging in any role…in this field in particular I have found that there is a great deal of expectation in regards to career advancement…it is implied and insinuated that you must sleep your way to the top due to the sheer level of competition. Many of the Directors are in positions where they have their pick of the best of the best of the best…and the only way to stand out is to go out of your way to be memorable…
-For me, I have not succumbed to the pressure, I am happy to note. However, that comes with a delay in reaching one’s target/goals. People who are willing to compromise their morals and agreeable to the expectations will get further ahead. Additionally, I have heard countless stories of women who have given in to the expectation and who are cast aside. Sadly, there is little protection or support for the struggling artist…it is not an easy journey and not all are rewarded for their sacrifices. Some are cast aside, used, abused (and confused). Alas, I wish to be known for my body of work, not the work of my body…
-In Canada, it has been described as Hollywood North. There are always a myriad of productions being filmed and a plethora of people to draw from. Consistently, you hear people in the industry saying that there is too much competition—it is an oversaturated field with not enough parts for the players. For myself, I have never been short of work, but I understand that this is not a typical scenario for the average actor…most are waiting for the phone to ring.
-About the new works offered to me, it varies. I realize that my calling is bigger than the role—I have a mission to accomplish. For this reason, I think it allows me to be more grounded and able to discern. That being said, I evaluate every role that comes my way—I turn some down if they do not fall in line with my brand. I seek to be a source of inspiration and motivation for younger generations. As such, I accept roles that push me, that elevate me and that speak to my soul.
– When it comes to finding balance between what is personal and professional , I recognize it is crucial to have both. For that reason, I do a lot of meditation and hiking. I find that the balance of the two help to keep me in the present moment and in line with the Divine. When I align with the Divine, and silence my mind, I find that the greatest sources of inspiration appears. As Wayne Dyer puts it, inspiration occurs when you are in line with spirit. That being said, I find that the best acting comes when you are in the moment simply reacting to the words and being attuned to your character.
For this reason, I always ensure that I make time for meditation and/or hiking. The combination of the two help me to remain grounded and present, two crucial aspects to having equilibrium in my professional practice and life.
-My current and future projects are PHOENIX WOMAN, PUT OUT by Mighty Vision Pictures in Los Angeles and SAVED, a Nigerian film as well as 1000: THE SWORD IN THE STONE, to be filmed in Italy.