A mass communication graduate from the American University in Cairo and a former P&G employee, Amr Saleh is an actor who has shown his talent in a number of TV series with big stars like Mohamed Sobhy, Yosra, and Asser Yassin. Saleh spoke exclusively with eniGma’s Mohamad Nagi and gave him the scoop on his career and his personal life.
Amr Saleh started out as a TV host. But working as an anchor on television channels was stifling to him. He recalls how he almost got kicked out of Dream TV for wearing a hat that said “MILF Hunter” and a Playboy shirt, adding, “I was fed up with how controlling these channels were. While I was working in OTV, I was offered an acting role and the channel wanted to read the script before I was allowed to accept.”
The rising actor is a bit of a rebel, for sure. He became angry on air with a woman who called in during a program on the October War commemoration. He explains, “I asked her about what she thought about the October War holiday, and she spoke of how nice the streets were because they were empty. I felt bad for the people who died and told her ‘do you think people went to war so that you would have a calm day?’ The director of the program started yelling in his earpiece, but this didn’t bother him.
Not long after that incident, Saleh was thrilled to be cast in his first role in a major television series. He recalls, “I asked the actor Mohamed Sobhy if I could attend one of his workshops. He told me that the workshop wasn’t running, but that there was a television series he wanted me to audition for.”
Saleh’s first big role was in the TV series Yawmiyat Wanees. He was cast in the role of Nader, Sobhy’s assistant, who was also in love with Sobhy’s daughter. As fate would have it, the director of the TV series Khas Giddan that starred Yosra was also the producer of Yawmiyat Wanees. The producer recommended Saleh for a role in Khas Giddan; so he auditioned for three characters and was given the role of Adham, a radical Islamist. “I had a six-minute monologue [as Adham], and this was where my acting career kicked off,” he explains. Yawmiyat Wanees and Khas Giddan both aired during Ramadan of 2009. He went on to play a movie director in Ard Khas and a thug in El-Hara, both in 2010.
Saleh’s portfolio includes impressive works like the 2012 shows Hekayat Banat and El-Baltagy, where he acted alongside the brilliant Asser Yassin. He also wrote the script for a radio show called El-Mahata that was broadcast on Nogoom FM in 2011. Then he acted in a 2011 feature film called Wahid Saheeh, produced by the famous commercial producer ElSobky and starring Hany Salama. The film was nominated for the Dubai International Film Festival.
Saleh is philosophical about acting. He considers himself more of a storyteller rather than an actor. The most fun part about acting for him is bringing the story to life and embodying the character. “You challenge yourself to become someone else. You have to be believable. You haven’t done a successful job if you’re just yourself reciting the lines. Every time you’re playing a role, you’re happy, even if you’re crying in a scene. It’s a game. Acting is a big man’s toy. You have to enjoy it, the moment of pain,” he explains.
Saleh says that he feels like he has a mission. and that he’s not just an actor who’s trying to be famous and make his way up. He wants to make films for the whole world that contain universal values such as love and beauty.
“I don’t want to be Ahmed Ezz, no thanks. I wouldn’t be happy. And I can’t make these films [for the whole world] without learning the proper tools. So I’m learning pantomime, swing dancing, and a variety of other arts. Art is about excelling humanity. When you sing, you talk better. When you dance, you walk better. When you act, you live better,” he adds. He divides his time between Cairo and London, where he is continuing his studies.
Saleh is also working on a conceptual photography project that tells the story of how two people find love, or how it finds them. It’s a joint project between him, photographer Hana Perlas, and fellow actress and friend Dina El-Sherbini. Saleh and El-Sherbini are the two who fall in love in the story. When asked if this love is also off-camera, he pauses for a moment before smirking and asks, “Why?” He says that they’ve been friends since they were children, then he momentarily becomes more serious and talks about his love life. He says, “It’s messed up, man. I’ve been single for almost seven years; but I date a lot; nothing that lasts longer than a couple of weeks, though. I like being single, but I’m waiting to fall in love.” He then adds, “A wise woman is much sexier than a naked woman.”
In response to a question on an event that impacted his life greatly, Saleh tells the story of being hit by a taxi while riding a bicycle. “I could hear the screeching of the brakes and I was saying to myself that the moment the collision happens I have to jump either to the left of the right to avoid being run over. All my expectations were wrong, and all I could see was the sky.” When he hit the ground, he could barely move. He hurt his head and lost his sight for almost an entire day; when he’d open his eyes, he’d just see black. This incident taught Saleh not to take things for granted, and that “if you have five fingers, then you have a lot.”
Currently Saleh is between sets for his roles in Sherine Abdel Wahab’s first series on television, Tareeki, and Estifa, a crime show that takes viewers on an adventure as they attempt to identify the perpetrator. They’re both due to come out this Ramadan.