Arab-American actor Rami Malek wins Emmy Award
Cairo - Egyptian-American actor Rami Malek expressed utmost joy after winning the Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in Drama Series for his work as Elliot Alderson, a hacktivist at the centre of the USA Network’s thriller Mr. Robot.
“I cried of happiness and didn’t expect getting this big prize,” Malek told The Arab Weekly in a private message on Twitter. “This is something that will continue to live in my memory forever.”
Malek won the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series award for his role in Mr. Robot, finishing ahead of Kevin Spacey for House of Cards and four other nominees. Malek was voted the Best Actor in a Drama Series at the Critics Choice Television Awards and was nominated in the Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series category by the Screen Actors Guild Awards.
Mr. Robot, in its second season, had six nominations at this year’s Emmy Awards. In addition to Malek’s acting award, Mac Quayle took the honour for Outstanding Music Composition for a Series (Original Dramatic Score). The programme was nominated in the Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series, Outstanding Casting for a Drama Series and Outstanding Drama Series categories. It won a Golden Globe for Best TV Drama Series earlier in the year.
Malek, 35, who was born in the United States to an Egyptian father, started his professional acting career in 2004 with a guest-starring role on the TV series Gilmore Girls. A short time later, he voiced characters for the video game Halo 2.
Malek made his feature film debut as Pharaoh Ahkmenrah in the comedy Night at the Museum in 2006 and reprised the role in the sequels Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian in 2009 and Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb in 2014.
In the psychological drama Mr. Robot, which premiered on June 24th, 2015, Malek plays the socially awkward and reclusive hacker-turned-vigilante Elliot Alderson, drawing praise from the tech world and Hollywood alike. The show’s creator, Sam Esmail, is also an Egyptian American.
Upon winning the Emmy, Malek described his character in the drama as “profoundly alienated”.
“The unfortunate thing is I’m not sure how many of us would want to hang out with a guy like Elliot,” he said.
But Malek also said: “I want to honour the Elliots because there’s a little bit of Elliot in all of us.”
“I am honoured to be recognised with such a distinguished and accomplished group of actors,” Malek added. “I’m honoured to stand here and represent my family and every single person who has helped me get this far. I’m honoured to work with a pure visionary in Sam Esmail — I wouldn’t be here without you — to go to work with an absurdly gifted cast and crew and writers.”
Malek told The Arab Weekly on Twitter that the award puts more responsibility on his shoulders from his audience and family.
“I will focus on choosing my coming pieces for getting more prizes,” he said. “I am fond of complex roles.”
Malek is not the first American actor of Arab descent to win an Emmy. Danny Thomas, whose parents were immigrants from Lebanon, took that title when he won Best Actor in a Regular Series for his role in Make Room for Daddy in 1953.
In Egypt, aspiring actors viewed Malek’s win as an inspiration.
Budding actor Mohamed Karim, who says he is a close friend of Malek’s, said his winning the award gave hope to scores of young Egyptian actors and actresses who dream of carving a niche for themselves on the international stage.
Karim, who is a year older than Malek, said the inspiration for Arab actors to try to make it big goes back to such stars as Omar Sharif, the Egyptian actor who played Sherif Ali in Lawrence of Arabia in 1962 and the title role in Doctor Zhivago in 1965. Sharif, who was nominated for an Academy Award for his performance in Lawrence of Arabia, died last year at the age of 83.
“Malek’s achievement gives honour to hundreds of actors and actresses in the Arab world,” Karim said. “I hope his successes will open Hollywood’s doors wide for other Arab actors.”
Cinema critic Tarek al-Shenawi said he hopes Malek’s win will help end Western fears of an Arab presence.
“Culture and art can do a lot to break the ice between civilisations,” Shenawi said. “They are the soft power that knows no boundaries.”