I like to be alone before I go on stage and don't want to be disturbed. When I am on stage, I like to bring every ounce of my energy to connect and resonate with every single person in the room. Pleasantries behind, we settle into our interesting conversation. Excerpts -. We should use everything for a higher purpose. If technology, social media, and videos can be used to empower people, make a change, it is incredible. It is said that you are an average of the five people you spend most of your time with I would say, you are an average of the five social media profiles you connect to!
So, it is about connecting with the right ideas online. The only routine is my day that is fixed is the time I wake up, meditate, and go to sleep. So, I wake up at 5 am every day, I meditate for two hours in the morning, go to the gym and have my breakfast. After that, every day is different - some days I am in shoots, in seminars, meeting people or doing Facebook lives. I keep a gratitude diary and fill it every night I take out time to read about two hours every day. And none of this is a recommendation as to what people should do in their lives.
I do it as I feel the need to be more absorbed so that I can serve people better. I detox once a week for half a day and spend it with friends or reading books. I always make sure that there is no technology in two areas of the home - the bedroom and the kitchen.
You don't have to give up technology for a whole day but rather have no technology zones and no technology times in your day. I don't use technology after 9pm and before 9am. So, don't look at your cell phone the first thing in the morning and the last thing in the night. When you make it about yourself, there is a pressure that you have to deliver. I focus more on the message rather than the pressure of delivering it.
Many performers, entertainers take a lot of pressure on themselves and it burns them out. It can take a toll on you. The way to disconnect is to remember that it is about the message, not about you. There is more choice with the millennials today and the added pressure or the romantic idea of having 'the one'.
And that's what makes them look fickle. When you have more choice and you don't want to settle, there are pros and cons. The pros is that when you find the one, it will be more meaningful and passionate. The cons are you keep waiting for the ideal one to complete you. So, it's about finding a balance So, prioritise your expectations. You should value compatibility over everything - find someone with the same values and goals. We look too much for the externals and not much for the internal. It is finding their passion and turning it into a paycheck. Today, most of us don't know what our inner voice sounds like because we are clouded by the noise in the society.
When I was growing up, I had three choices - to be a doctor, lawyer, or a failure.
I become a monk. I didn't even attend my graduation at business school. So, the biggest challenge is to disconnect from the noise, the expectations, and then have the confidence to chase your dreams. The solution is to continue with your job and use your spare time to do what you love. Too many people are using their spare time to watch Netflix or randomly waste time in bars and that's not gonna build your dreams. In my early years, I was at work till 8 pm, come home and edit videos till 1 am. I was doing that for countless hours, every day.
My point is that the solution is to build what you love on the side of what you have to. That way it is a no risk game. Also, be patient as things that change your life, take time. You don't have to be a Mark Zuckerberg at It's never too late and you don't have to settle.
It's not about what you want, it's about what you are willing to give up in becoming what you want. I think it is the same thing I said about relationships. Too many options and yes, we don't want to settle anymore. For our parents, it was primarily about survival. With more opportunities and exposure to education, we have an ability to not do that.
We don't have to settle early. We have the flexibility to sit back for two years, get it wrong and begin again. The other thing is that we want meaningful careers. I don't like that young people are judged for the careers they choose. Why should you do something you don't love? I don't think we should feel guilty for wanting more out of our lives and chasing meaningful challenges. I don't have free time!
I love water so I go for swimming or indulge in water sports. Watching the highlights of a soccer or football match. I never get time to watch the full game. I love going to Madison square gardens to watch basketball or see a comedy show live. I like live performances in general. Far from receiving bouquets, he was reduced to delivering them. And when that didn't work out, he turned to delivering pizzas. When I meet Abdo and Afashe in a cafe in Berlin, he is brimming with energy and enthusiasm. Much of this, no doubt, can be attributed to his recent turnaround in fortunes. His days of driving around southern California with fast food and flowers are over.
And he has even reached the luxurious point once more of being able to reject scripts and job offers. His is an inspiring story of rebirth, a bold narrative of hope, industriousness and salvation. But it also contains the refugee's dread of despair and dislocation. According to Afashe, however, even during the darkest days in Los Angeles, when she and her husband lived in the cheapest knocking-shop motels, with relatives stuck in Syria, and a wholly uncertain future, Abdo retained his naturally sunny disposition.
I could have died without him. But the Hollywood of which he had dreamed as a young man was now shut to him. Many men, especially those in their 50s, would have become demoralised by the constant rejection. Instead, Abdo set about getting himself parts in ultra low-budget movies with no acting fees, just so he could get a demo reel together. Afashe recalls crying when she saw the tiny unpaid parts, such as an extra, that Abdo was grateful to play.
They had their lives, but we didn't. And at the same time, you have to be funny and upbeat and catch the humour, and you can't really talk about the situation back home. Back home, this situation only got worse. Initially, at the outset of the Arab spring, when the revolt started in Tunisia, few Syrians, including Abdo, believed that it would spread to their country.
A friend of mine, his father was in prison, for a single sentence he said. He was a journalist and he said in a meeting, 'I don't understand why big decisions in this country are made by one person. They sent a message: if you dare to even think about it you will be finished. My father was also kindly asking me not to confront them. It's not wise, he said, so just live your life. In the end, it was the children who started to protest in Syria, not the adults. The street demonstrations did not start until March , after 15 children were arrested in Daraa for writing anti-government slogans.
But such was the sudden outpouring of protest that Abdo and his wife began to believe that Syria would be swept to freedom by a tidal wave of popular revolt. Actors are in the business of expressing feelings, but Abdo, like many Syrians, had learned to conceal his own. Your inner voice is not allowed to get out to the general public. You always choose a close circle of friends in which you express your feelings, and even then you remain cautious. Back in the s and s, Abdo's father, an Arabic lecturer, had been arrested for expressing his opinion. People in power used to ask Abdo about his father, in a sort of intimidatory code.
The actor knew just to smile and say that his father was fine. Anything more would have signified troublesome dissent. As the demonstrations grew, Abdo felt a deepening need to give voice to those inner feelings, all the anger and frustration and yearning that he had for so long suppressed. Until then, his resistance had been passive.
For example, unlike many actors and film-makers he knew well, he politely refused the invitations that came from members of the regime who liked to bolster their image with the company of celebrities. Again, they're like the mafia. It's a kind request — let's go to dinner.
Come to my office and discuss this book. Have you read this? But I always avoided them because they were ferocious. The artists with ethics didn't agree to be seen with these people in power.
Others, unburdened by such ethical inhibitions, would accept gifts of cars, houses and various other special privileges. When called to attend marches in support of Assad, they didn't hesitate to go. Although Abdo had not been the beneficiary of the regime's largesse, he was still asked by the actors' guild to march for Assad.
I don't want to go. In America, his fight may not have been mortal but it was existential. He had to struggle to maintain his identity as a successful actor.
Although in terms of society, safety nets were in short supply, Abdo was moved by the many Americans who tried to help on a personal level. There is a Syrian or Arab or Muslim community but we didn't want to be under any umbrella. It's hard at the beginning but it's a relief in the end.
We chose our friends and we made friends from all religions and cultures. One day at a breakfast party Abdo met Nick Raslan , a producer who had been born in Syria, and who was making a film with Werner Herzog. He showed the producer his demo reel and they met again for a coffee. Abdo learned that Raslan's brother had been arrested in Syria and then killed. He also found out that Herzog wanted to see him. The next time I met Werner, he tells me, 'You are on top of my casting list.
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One thing I remember — I didn't sleep any more. Abdo was to play Fattuh, a guide who escorts Bell Kidman on her travels — the next biggest role in screen time after Kidman's.
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As this was the movie business, the happy ending had to wait for a few further twists, the main one being that he couldn't get a visa to travel to Morocco, where much of Herzog's film was located. Although he managed to attain refugee travel documents from the Department of Homeland Security, no Arab country would issue a Syrian national with a visa. Then he was offered work on a musical in Qatar, which sent him a limited visa by email. There were just two days to the film's deadline and Herzog had told him that he was going to have to recast the part.
So he went to the Moroccan embassy in Doha and met a junior diplomat who recognised him. He did that and then looked me in the eye and said, 'Book your flight tonight. He can't speak highly enough of Kidman, who took a great deal of interest in the plight of Syria and Abdo's family, and the other actors in the film, such as James Franco and Damian Lewis — "We love him.
He's a wonderful, educated man. He's good-hearted, and his wife, Helen [McCrory] too.
Great people. I still miss them. And he raves about Herzog, who has not always cultivated cordial relations with his actors. He's 71 and still young, like he's Tom Hanks is another who wins Abdo's glinting-eyed stamp of approval — "a great guy, a wonderful person".