Wednesday, June 13, 2012
FROM THE ARAB SPRING TO THE SORKIN SUMMER Sorkin writes Hollywood’s first portrayal of the Arab Spring on HBO’s The Newsroom
(Los Angeles, June 11, 2012) Last year’s revolution in Egypt inspired people across the world -- including the mind of Oscar-winning writer Aaron Sorkin. His highly anticipated new show, The Newsroom (premiering June 24 on HBO) will include Hollywood’s first depiction of the Arab Spring.
The mid-season plot will follow the revolution with the help of real life Egyptian-American actor Amin El Gamal, a rising star who guests on the show. El Gamal plays an amateur reporter that wins the hearts of the newsroom staff (played by Jeff Daniels, Emily Mortimer, and Dev Patel) and becomes their rogue correspondent.
“The revolution had a profound effect on my family and me.” El Gamal said. “And I was thrilled to play an Arab man who’s not associated with violence and hate. I felt a responsibility to properly represent the incredible people who finally got a voice during those 18 days in Tahrir Square.”
That responsibility lead El Gamal to collaborate with Sorkin on some of the character details.
“My character originally had a Swahili name, which didn’t make much sense for an Egyptian.” El Gamal said. “I was terrified to bring it up -- Aaron Sorkin being as brilliant as he is -- but I felt I owed it to the brave Egyptians whose story we were telling.”
Sorkin was open to the change and asked El Gamal to email him a list of common Egyptian names. Just two days before shooting, El Gamal was Fed-Exed new pages with a new, more accurate name.
“I hope my episode reaches some brown kid with a similarly weird name, who’s struggling with his or her identity, like I was.” El Gamal said. “And I hope it empowers him or her to be the best they can be.”
Amin El Gamal is an actor who was born (during an earthquake) and raised in Palo Alto, CA. Amin is a first generation Egyptian-American (his last name means “The Camel” in Arabic) and a graduate of Stanford University. Within months of completing USC’s MFA in Acting program, he caught Aaron Sorkin’s eye and landed a guest role on HBO’s The Newsroom in an episode named after his character (airing July 22). Amin can also be seen in the upcoming films Take Down the House and Indefinitely, and on stages across the country including the NY Public Theater, Walt Disney Concert Hall, The Magic Theatre, and A Noise Within.