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Yemeni actor dreams of star role in the city

Updated: 2024-05-10 07:28 ( China Daily )
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Hamza al-Sal during his interview with China Daily. [Photo by Gao Erqiang/China Daily]

Hamza al-Sal is grateful to Shanghai for the opportunities and experiences it has provided him, as well as the hope of realizing his dream of becoming a professional actor.

The 24-year-old Yemeni student at the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics, shot to fame for his portrayal of Alexander, a foreign tenant in the hit film B for Busy (2021), in which his remarkable performance, toned physique, and fluent Shanghai dialect captivated audiences.

"I have a passion for acting. I want to continue doing what I like," he tells China Daily. "I hope to create my own opportunities in Shanghai, and shoot my own movie."

Al-Sal moved to China in 2000 as a toddler when his father, Mudhar al-Sal, seeking to take advantage of reform and opening-up, moved his family to the bustling, globalized commercial hub of Yiwu in Zhejiang province, where he gradually developed a trade in daily necessities. In fact, Mudhar al-Sal's connection to China dates back to 1990 when he studied Chinese at the Beijing Language and Culture University before pursuing a degree in civil engineering at Shanghai's Tongji University.

"My father suggested that I study finance and economics in Shanghai so I might continue to develop the family business," he says. Hamza al-Sal moved to Shanghai when he was 19 and started a course in Investment Studies.

Thanks to his father's stories of Shanghai, he found the city familiar and the time he has spent there is very important to him, as he finds it a source of inspiration and endless possibility.

"I have made many friends, and most of them are from Shanghai. Much of my experience, including meeting people in the film industry, is right here in Shanghai."

Hamza al-Sal had his first taste of the spotlight at 14 when he landed a role in the Jackie Chan film Dragon Blade, which ignited his passion for acting and led to a number of small roles in TV dramas and commercials. While studying at the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics, he uses his spare time to audition, taking on minor roles as an extra or an assistant whenever given the opportunity, simply out of a desire to learn.

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