With a 12-year career journey that started with advertisements, followed by presenting a number of successful TV shows, before landing starring roles in several TV blockbuster series, Amir Karara has a lot to be proud of. eniGma’s Radwa El Ziki talks to the action man about fame, family, and his professional future.
I’m not going to lie or sugarcoat my reaction, I was star struck. Ever since Karara’s captivating role in Mowaten X (Citizen X), 2011, his romantic character in Ruby, 2012, and his portrayal of Mimi El Raye’a in Taraf Talet (Third Party), 2012, he has been on my fame radar, and everyone one else’s for that matter.
Calm, cool and collected, Karara poses effortlessly in front of the camera, taking instructions like a pro, in some instances, he was the smooth operator guiding the photo shoot. With every pose and move, you could tell, he wasn’t camera shy.
Starting his career almost 12 years ago as a model, Karara’s first step in the industry was not so typical, or maybe it was. “Thank God these commercials don’t get aired anymore!” he jokes, breaking the ice almost instantaneously. Ironically, Karara explains that he never wanted to be an actor, but when he found himself in the scene, he insisted on pursuing his new found dream of acting. With the help of advertising guru, Tarek Nour, Karara found himself presenting several hit television shows like Star Maker, Sama’na Sotak (Let Us Hear Your Voice), and Faker Wala La’a (Do You Remember?). “People started recognising my face,” Karara explains. You would think that this comment would sound more cheerful, or at least I expected it to be. But Karara goes on to elaborate that although people knew his name, it was only because he was a presenter. Transitioning to an actor was not easy, hearing comments like, “oh isn’t that the presenter?” sometimes put him down. Looking on the brighter side, Karara describes everything in his life as steps towards his goal that ultimately led him to where he is today.
Not only was his first acting gig a success, it was the first of its kind in the Middle East. “I was extremely ecstatic to be a part of the first sitcom, Shabab Online (Online Youth),” he recalls. But then he drifted away from acting; he wasn’t focused enough and this lost him a lot of valuable time. “This was and still is my biggest regret, I started to focus later on,” Karara admits.
Karara waited patiently for the right acting role to come his way. And in 2011, his big break came. Cast as Hossam in Mowaten X, a series that changed the Egyptian TV drama scene, Karara’s depiction of the character was strong enough to push his career forward. His success landed him another role, this time in the Egyptian Lebanese drama series, Ruby, with actress Cyrine Abdel Nour. “Honestly, I never imagined the success that Ruby would bring, How could people not get bored of my face every day, for 90 days?” he jokes.
Then came Mimi El Raye’a, and if you don’t know who that is, we suggest you watch more television. This role in Taraf Talet really took him to the next level, the level a serious actor aspires to. His popularity reached a new high. “Young boys started to grow their hair out and call themselves Mimi,” Karara smiles, proudly.
His string of successful roles led to the lead role in Taht El Ard (Under the Ground), the 2013 Ramadan TV series. In this series Karara was cast in a role that was somewhat different from what he’d done before. Starring opposite Songül Öden, Turkey’s leading lady, Karara learned how to speak Turkish, just for the show. “I wanted the viewers to connect with the character, so I didn’t want it to be dubbed. Speaking in Turkish would make it more interesting,” and that is exactly what happened. With help from a Turkish tutor, Karara looked like he’d lived in Turkey all his life.
Every actor has a dream role and Karara is no different, although his dream may seem interestingly out of the ordinary. “I’d love to star in a production that resembles the movie Troy or Hareem El Sultan, but it has to be done right!” he meticulously points out.
The proud father of two children, Selim and Laila, Karara admits it’s diffcult to achieve the right balance between work and being a devoted family man. “During shooting, I barely see my family, but I try to make it up to them on my days off,” Karara explains.
Since by now Karara’s presence in at least one Ramadan series has become a must, it seems like a sure bet we will be seeing him next year. But Karara seemed to be excited about something much bigger, “I have a movie in the works!” Wahsh El Allamein, (The Monster of Allamein), is based on Karara’s idea and Hesham Helal is the scriptwriter. So his fans will be waiting for more than Ramadan this year.
With our interview coming to a close, Karara says he’s learnt a few lessons along the way. “When I was younger, I didn’t plan things out, but now it’s different, I have much more responsibilities,” he notes. With the spotlight on him, he has learnt to be careful with his actions and decisions. Karara measures his choices and weighs future consequences. “For example, I try to choose family-friendly shows or movies.” Something we can’t help but admire.
The Enigma Questionnaire
What words best describe you?
Kind. A good friend. And I hate upsetting the people around me.
What about yourself would you most like to change?
My anger issues, you don’t want to see me angry.
What qualities do you dislike in people?
When people don’t mind their own business. Like those old neighbours who look at you every time you leave the house.
What do you find attractive in a woman?
I like it when a woman always takes care of herself and always looks pretty. Whether she’s asleep, on the beach, or even going to the supermarket, she should always look presentable.
What is the book that has had the greatest impact on you?
I will be completely honest, I barely read. I have never read the newspaper. I always wonder why people read on the beach.
Who are your real-life heroes?
I am my own hero. I am very proud of what I did in my life. I hope that one day Selim becomes like his father, an independent person who can take care of himself.
What would the title of your biography be?
“Strange World”, because we live in one.
Which high profile Arab do you most admire and why?
Adel Imam. The man is a genius. He has worked consistently for over 30 years.
What is your biggest regret?
That I didn’t start focusing on my career earlier.
If you could change one thing about the Middle East, what would that be?
I want us to go back to the old Middle East, where everything was calmer and safer.
What keeps you up at night?
If I don’t have anything to work on.
What makes you laugh?
My kids make me laugh, even if they are not necessarily doing anything funny.
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