There have been perhaps two significant moments that lead Amir El Masry towards acting. One was onstage in a school play, dressed in a catsuit that his mum had made him, thriving on the electric feeling of entertaining an audience. The other was a chance encounter with the late, great Omar Sharif. Like a scene out of a movie, after a two hour conversation with his hero, who he loved watching in Lawrence of Arabia, Amir was gifted Omar Sharif’s ticket to his premiere and was told to talk to the director he would be sitting next to. This was Amir’s big break.
After starring in the Egyptian film, Ramadan Mabrouk Abul-Alamein Hamouda, Amir went to Royal Holloway to study Criminology and Sociology and then went on to LAMDA, keen to learn the craft of acting from the beginning. However, when Jon Stewart, of the Daily Show wanted to cast Amir in Rosewater, alongside Gael Garcia Benal and Claire Foy, amongst others, he left drama school and worked his way up. Often he had to take roles that he felt were very stereotypical, where he was cast as terrorists or victims. When the opportunity to star in Limbo came up, about refugees seeking asylum on a remote Scottish island, directed by fellow BAFTA Breakthrough Ben Sharrock, Amir was blown away by the nuances of his character and had never before laughed and cried while reading a script.
Looking at the incredible roster of the people who have been BAFTA Breakthroughs before him, Amir feels as though he is standing on their shoulders, inspired by Florence Pugh’s trajectory in particular. He feels massively encouraged by the fact that BAFTA wants to be on the right side of the narrative by offering so much support, especially after so many years of not seeing people who look like him in the roles that he would like to play.