Hussein Fahmy Holds Debate With University Students In Beirut

Published July 2nd, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

Egyptian movie star Hussein Fahmy discussed the importance of a strong academic background in pursuing a career in the arts with students at a Lebanese university in Beirut on Friday, according to The Daily Star.  

The Lebanese daily said that Fahmy told a packed audience of some 300 at the Lebanese American University’s Gulbenkian Theater that “a strong academic base is very important if you want to succeed in this field. Without it I wouldn’t be here today.” 

“I’m always learning something new, traveling around the world and meeting people because there is no such thing as an end to gaining knowledge,” said the 53 year old actor.  

He also went on to encourage the students to complete their University learning stating that his own university years had provided him with the “guiding force to furthering my knowledge” and also gave him the opportunity to meat various well-known directors. 

Those self same directors, said the actor, are the people who played a major part in his career. 

Although it is still taboo in some social circles in the Arab world to pursue acting, Fahmy encouraged students to pursue their dreams saying that he himself faced difficulties when he chose the path. 

His father, an aristocrat, refused to talk to his son for months after he informed his family of his love for acting. 

“it wasn’t considered respectable,” explained Fahmy and his conservative Circassian descent did not make it easier. 

It was only until he “got phone calls from people like famous director Youssef Chahine,” that his family “realized that maybe their son had a bit of talent and should be given the chance.” 

“You should struggle and not give up so that you are appreciated and give back what you’ve learnt to the next generation,” explained the actor, who is also a UN Goodwill Ambassador to Egypt.  

His long-standing connections with Hollywood has earned Egyptian cinema further respect from international critics. Since he became president of the Cairo International Film Festival in 1998, American stars like John Malkovich have adjudicated the annual festival.  

When asked about the emphasis and importance of looks in the movie industry, Fahmy answered “It’s certainly not important because looks fade, and then what does the actor have?”, insisting that, contrary to this misconception he remained an actor because he worked so hard.  

On a lighter note, at the end of the debate, an LAU student asked Fahmy to wish her mother a happy birthday on her mobile. The actor happily complied calling the student’s mother. 

“This is Hussein Fahmy wishing you many happy returns,” said Fehmy.  

The charismatic film director, actor, and former professor completed film studies in Egypt before heading to the US to study film directing at the University of California in Los  

© 2000 Al Bawaba (

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