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These Arab Actors Have Been Named as Bafta Breakthrough Talents

Amir El-Masry

Egyptian-British actor Amir El-Masry. Photo: Instagram/ @amirelmasry

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (Bafta) announced its 2020 Bafta Breakthrough Participants this week, and Arab actors Amir El-Masry and Youssef Kerkour have been named on the list.

The talent initiative, supported by Netflix, aims to champion the next generation of creative talent across the entertainment industry, from movies and television to video games. Thirty talents from the industry have been named as part of the Bafta Breakthrough Participants list, with Egyptian-British actor Amir El-Masry and Moroccan actor Youssef Kerkour both securing a spot.

El-Masry has been a rising star over the last few years, with roles in major Hollywood productions including the film Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker and the Amazon Prime hit series, Jack Ryan. The London-based actor has been named as a Bafta breakthrough act for his performance as Omar in the recent British comedy-drama film Limbo, which follows the story of a young Syrian musician who has been separated from his family and is stuck on a remote Scottish island awaiting the fate of his asylum request.

“Thank you @bafta for this incredible accolade and your continuous support,” El-Masry wrote on Instagram. “(It is a) huge privilege to be announced as one of this year’s BAFTA Breakthrough Brits alongside my ‘Limbo’ director/writer and producer Ben Sharrock and Irune Gurtubai,” he added.

In the Instagram post, El-Masry also congratulated fellow participant Kerkour. Moroccan actor Kerkour is best known for his roles in the television series’ Dracula, crime-dramas Criminal: UK and Marcella, and the film Redemption. Kerkour, who was born and raised in Rabat, is nominated for his most recent role as Sami Ibrahim in the British comedy-drama series Home, a role which previously saw him nominated for the BAFTA for Best Male Comedy Performance.

“Deeply honored to be named a Bafta Breakthrough 2020. It’s testament to the amazing people I’ve had the privilege of working with throughout the year, who have made me look good!” Kerkour wrote on Instagram. “Congratulations to the 33 other extremely talented individuals, including my buddy Amir El-Masry. Thank you so much @bafta and @netflix for the privilege. I’m looking forward to the year ahead and to getting busy. Watch this space!” he added.


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A post shared by Youssef Kerkour (@youssefkerkour)

Previously known as Breakthrough Brits, the initiative has been running in the UK since 2013. However, it was launched globally for the first time this year, in May, open to participants from China, India, and the US. Participants named as part of the initiative will take part in a year-long mentoring program, where Bafta will work with each breakthrough talent individually in order to create a tailored year of support and career development. This year’s line-up of Bafta Breakthrough Participants was selected by a jury of industry experts including British Vogue Editor-in-Chief Edward Enninful and Killing Eve star Fiona Shaw.

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