Talented singer/actor Mohamed El Sharnouby, who gained significant popularity in recent years, is the epitome of young stardom. Sharnouby, which is the name he goes by, has proven to be a talented actor with his roles in critically acclaimed films, such as Al Maa’ Wal Khodra Wal Wagh Al Hasan (Water, Greenery & the Fair Face) and El Mamar (The Pathway), and in hugely successful series like Afrah Al Qoba (The Dome Weddings) and La Totfea’ Al Shams (Don’t Turn Out the Sun). As a singer, he’s had several hit songs, like Aadi w Berahtak (Whatever you Want), Heta Mel Khayal (Unreal) and Alby Ertah (My Heart is at Ease). Not surprisingly, his good looks and charm have also undeniably added to his appeal and to his rapidly growing fanbase, especially among young women! eniGma’s Mohamed Hesham sat down with the rising star to learn about his secret recipe to success in a very competitive industry.
As a child, Sharnouby, the son of iconic composer Farouk El Shanouby, grew up in an artistic household and was singing before he could even form complete sentences. “Both my dad and uncle were great composers, so there was music around me the whole time. It almost seems like I was born singing, which I did all the time,” he recalls, adding, “It’s an honour to be the son of one of the world’s best musicians, and I’d like people to know that I’m his son. However, I don’t like people saying that I only exist because of my dad. I worked really hard and put so much effort to get where I am today. He definitely helped me as a father, giving me advice and supporting me, but not through favouritism. How I got into acting, especially, had nothing to do with my dad.”
Sharnouby’s career began when he and his father were guests on the popular TV show, El Beit Beitak (Our House is Yours), in 2005. The minister of media took an interest in the clearly talented child after seeing him on the program and asked to meet him. This meeting led to Sharnouby participating in several small musical projects, and an acting opportunity presented itself shortly thereafter.
Sharnouby was 11 years old when he made his acting debut portraying the famous singer, Abdel Wahab in his childhood years in a play called Ashe’ El Rooh (Soul Lover). “It was very frightening for me at first. But when I got on the stage, I was suddenly fine and not nervous at all. Generally, even when I started acting in movies, the idea of being in front of the camera with a hundred people watching, and waiting for the word ‘cut’ so they could start doing their jobs, was not at all fun for me at first. It started being fun later on when I got used to the idea and it no longer became strange,” he recounts.
Despite his upbringing and his stint as a child actor, Sharnouby did not have a specific career in mind during his teenage years. “I felt like acting and singing were something I wanted to do, but I didn’t know if I would ever get to do them again. I think I always wanted to become an actor, but there was a time, I guess around 2012 and 2013, when I was clueless. I didn’t know what I wanted in life,” he says.
In 2014, Sharnouby got a role in a sitcom, and followed that with an independent film, but he wasn’t really satisfied. “I realised that I needed to take a bigger step, so I began to audition for many things that I had my eye on,” he reveals. Not long after, he landed starring roles in Al Maa’ W Al Khodra W Al Wagh El Hassan (Water, Greenery & The Fair Face), alongside Laila Eloui and Menna Shalaby, and the following year he appeared in Afrah El Qoba (The Dome Weddings), with Mona Zaki and other big stars, where he got the chance to showcase his musical chops by singing El Hawa Ghalab (Wind is Strong). He also landed a role and got to sing in La Totfe’ Al Shams (Don’t Turn Out the Sun). “Ever since then, I knew exactly what I wanted and where I was headed. Things became clear,” he asserts.
Sharnouby went on to make guest appearances on Esaad Younes’s Sahebat El Saada (Her Excellency), where he got to sing with legendary musician Omar Khairat in one of the episodes. It was at that time that his musical career started to really take off, and he got to perform duets with superstars Assala and Angham. Recalling how that came about, he explains, “The song with Assala came right after my episode with Omar Khairat,” he explains, adding, “I was just about to start a new TV series, but the project got scrapped. I was going to sing this song, but it ended up being shelved with the series, until Assala heard it by mere coincidence and said she wanted to do the song and wanted me to sing it with her. Who could say no to that!” The song become an instant hit.
As for his duet with Angham, Sharnouby adds, “I was also honoured to do the duet Faker Zaman? (Remember the Past?) with her. It was one of the El Gouna Film Festival’s official songs in its second edition. I was pinching myself in disbelief. Who would think that a person who’s still getting started, would be doing duets with Angham and Assala? What else could you ask for? I couldn’t believe that I was singing opposite Angham, the star I grew up listening to. There are moments in your life, the milestones where you have this odd sense, which is really out of utter disbelief. You temporarily shut down because you don’t know how else to react.”
Sharnouby recalls another one of those moments when he experienced an extreme sense of euphoria. “It was in April 2018, during my first solo concert. It was the most fun I’ve had my whole life, even though I also loved my first concert in the opera singing with Omar Khairat. I’m happiest when I’m on stage, because you get to receive immediate feedback, whether you are proud and satisfied with your performance or not. There’s an unexplainable sense of joy when you’re on stage and people are applauding your existence, and you cannot believe that there are thousands of people coming to hear you sing; it’s unbelievable,” he explains ecstatically, adding, “But throughout it all, I never felt like I wanted to sing more than to act. I always wanted to do both, because at the end I love them both… neither one tops the other.”
When it comes to acting, one of Sharnouby’s most challenging projects was El Mamar (The Pathway), starring Ahmed Ezz. “Filming that film was very tiring. We had to shoot in the desert, 30 kilometres away from Hurghada, where conditions were extremely tough. We couldn’t go in with the caravans, and had to shoot for 14 hours straight every day in the middle of the desert. If nature called, you just had to adapt, and if you wanted to sleep, you would simply lie on a hill and then wake up next to a scorpion,” he recalls, with a laugh. “Yet it was my greatest pride to be a part of this film. Just knowing that it will exist forever because it shows a phase in our country’s history that was never shown before, which the younger generation doesn’t know a lot about, and in a very entertaining way, is amazing. El Mamar depicted the 1967 war accurately to a big extent, while still being fun to watch,” he exclaims.
Sharnouby has been successful at portraying a wide range of characters, varying not only in traits and social class, but also in age. “In Afrah El Qoba alone, I played the role of a young man aged 17 and until he became 28 years old. In such cases, I have to either become younger or older internally. It actually has nothing to do with looks; your soul has to appear older or younger on camera, which is extremely challenging and difficult,” he explains, adding with a twinkle in his eye. “There’s an upcoming role I’m working on that has the same challenge.”
Recently, in the coming of age film, Banat Thanawy (High School Girls), Sharnouby portrayed Sayed, a lowlife fraud who’s up to no good, with deadpan humour. “Portraying him came quite easily to me, because I have that lowlife personality somewhere inside me,” he says jokingly. “It only pops out when I’m around my close friends! I’m drawn to the kind of roles like Sayed. I really enjoy doing them. I just love Sayed; he’s very funny,” he adds, with a chuckle.
The actor also starred in the critically acclaimed Shahid series, Leh Laa’ (Why Not), as Amina Khalil’s love interest. “When I choose a project, I first look at the scriptwriter, the director and the production company behind it. Those three elements excited me so much when it came to Leh Laa’. I also found the cast very exciting and the the script itself was new. I had never played a character like this one before. The series was unlike anything out there and I really wanted to be a part of it,” he says.
With his many successes over the past few years Sharnouby’s name has skyrocketed both in film and music. However, coping with fame has not been easy for him. “It’s always a blessing when you see people loving you. It’s priceless. However, sometimes you’re just not in the mood and want to be alone. It is tough, when you have to force a smile and take pictures, so that a fan doesn’t think you’re cold or rude, because it means a lot to them. But I chose this life, so I have to deal with its cons as well as it pros,” he admits.
Not surprisingly, Sharnouby finds that another downside to fame is the lack of privacy when it comes to your personal life; his personal life has been in the public spotlight for the past couple of years. But he has learned to take it in his stride, while gaining life lessons. “Anything that happens in your life, either positively or negatively, happens for a reason. You learn from the experience not to do the same thing again,” he explains. “However, I would advise anyone getting into this field not to depend on people to get them there. Just be independent. Most people who want to make it think that someone will do something for them or will lead them somewhere, but no one will do anything for you and only you can do what you really want to do. No one will get you something that’s not meant to be. If you truly deserve something, then with your own effort and talent, you will surely reach your goal,” he asserts.
After some turbulence, Sharnouby seems to believe he’s found the balance he was seeking in his personal life by tying the knot with the lovely Randa, earlier this year. “Married life has provided me with some much-needed stability. Life became better and tranquility took over on all aspects. Everything became organised,” he admits, as he goes on to gush over his wife, “I have found the person who makes me happy and comfortable, and if I’m capable of getting married now, then why not be happy with the love of my life.”
Looking forward, Sharnouby the singer is working on some exciting new projects. “I’m preparing a lot of new music. I’m working on multiple tracks with various people. I’m also composing and working with young composers and poets, trying new and different things. But there’s nothing that I can tell you specifically at the moment; you’ll just have to hear it when it comes out,” he explains, adding, “There’s something on my mind, and I want to go there, but not now. At the moment, I’m just experimenting. I have the energy, time and space to try new things. I want to enjoy doing that, because later on I’ll have to be focusing on my main interests.”
When it comes to acting, Sharnouby will next be seen in a drama series called Lolo’ (Pearl), which he is currently shooting, alongside Mai Omar, Ahmed Zaher and Edward. It is directed by Mohammed Abdel Salam, written by Mohammed Mahran and developed by Mohammed Samy, who came up with the story. He explains, “It takes on a social topic and it’s very suspenseful and nail-biting,” the actor reveals, adding, “I also have a film directed by Hady Bagoury in the works, but it’s still in pre-production. It’s a romantic drama. We didn’t start shooting any of it yet, so I don’t want to say something that is not yet confirmed.”
The multitalented rising star emphasises that he has more than one goal he wants to achieve. Summing up, he declares, “Every chapter of my life has its own goal. When I achieve that goal, I get to the next one. I did a lot of series, and I found success in the world of drama. Now, I want to achieve more in the world of cinema. I want people to want to go to movie theatres just to watch my films.”
Who is your greatest role model?
I don’t really have one.
Where is your favourite place to hang out when you’re not busy working?
What is your worst habit?
Taking too long to get ready.
What is your best attribute?
I’m very determined.
What is the favourite part of your job?
Imagination and creativity.
Do you prefer drama or comedy?
If you weren’t acting, what would you be doing?
I would most probably be a pilot.
Styling: Hoda Wahby
Photography: Emad Kassem
Hair by Mekky
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