It’s a funny thing: my name in Arabic means hope, so I suppose I have to live by that principle. Hope is desire, feeling, and investing in a projection of something that doesn’t yet exist. At its best, you witness its alchemy in your life, turning something that was once in the mind into reality. At its worst, it’s delusion.
We as people often subscribe to hope to feel better about our lives, to escape the harsh and sometimes cruel injustices of the world.
Storytelling, mythology and film provide a lot of hope but, on the flip side, can also create delusion.
My goal was always to be working on the biggest stage in the world: Hollywood. Even when I was doing ‘The Bill,’ I approached the work like it was a Hollywood classic such as ‘Training Day’ or ‘Boyz n the Hood.’ So to have worked with some of the greats I’ve admired, such as Forest Whitaker, Kathy Bates, Cuba Gooding Jr., etc., it warms me.
A lot of British actors will look at America as such a land of opportunity. In England, there’s such a small pool of working actors of color. There’s such a small amount of work that is actually produced in the first place.
In England, there’s a lot of people producing their own work and becoming producers and filmmakers, so they’re not constantly waiting around. It can be very scarce for work, so it’s important to create the work.
I want to go wherever there’s great work. I’m a huge fan of film primarily. But you can get a great TV show and get attached to it. Making a great film is forever, though, so I always want to be part of film. It’s my first love.
In the U.S., there are around 300 shows in different networks, so there’s a lot of work here.