Born in the city of Zagazig, on Nov. 18, 1949, Ahmed Zaki remains one of Egypt’s iconic actors. Nicknamed the ‘Black Tiger’ after his big role in the 1984 boxing film ‘Al Nimr Al Aswad’ (Black Tiger), Zaki was able to transform Egyptian cinema and become one of the most known actors across the Middle East. At the age of 55, he passed away on March 27, 2005, due to complications from lung cancer. To celebrate his legacy, we will shed light on his acting journey and some of the legendary roles he played.
Zaki fell in love with acting when he was still in school, his headmaster saw his creative ability and pushed him to follow his passion. He then earned his degree from Cairo Higher Institute for Theatre Studies in 1974 and starred in big movies like ‘Eskendria Leh” (Alexandria…Why?), ‘Kaboria’ (The Crab), ‘Edhak El Sora Tetlaa’ Helwa’ (Smile For A Good Picture), and ‘Arba’a Fi Muhimma Rasmiya’ (Four on an Official Mission).
Over three decades, Zaki acted in over 60 films and plays, which was a big specialty of his. He also earned fame in Egypt for his role in “El 3eyal Kebret” (No Longer Kids) as Kamal, who was the second-oldest sibling and a bright college student who desired to marry an old divorced woman with four children (Madame Soona). His scene with his dad (Hassan Mostafa) to convince him to approve of this marriage was one of the funniest scenes in the history of Egyptian plays.
Throughout his career, Zaki was known for taking on various diverse roles, for example, his role in ‘El Beih El Bawwab’ saw him as a doorman who just moved with his family from Upper Egypt to Cairo. Throughout the film, Zaki showcased how by being smart, he was able to work as a broker and make lots of money. The most fascinating aspect of this film is how Zaki was able to represent the character of “Abdulsamee” and demonstrate how a person with his social standing and upbringing can make money by comprehending the workplace and knowing how to interact with others smartly.
Zaki also starred in two popular biographical projects, ‘Nasser 56’ & ‘Ayam El-Sadat.’ In the first project, he portrayed the role of Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser in a thrilling biography about his life as a political leader. In the second one, he played the role of Egyptian President Anwar Al Sadat where he was able to show Al Sadat’s private and public life while ruling Egypt.
Ahmed Zaki had his son Haitham from his marriage to Egyptian actress Hala Fouad which lasted for a decade, from 1983–1993. Haitham was a skilled actor who starred in a number of Egyptian works including ‘Kaf Alqamar,’ ‘El Kenz’ (The Treasure), and ‘Halim.’ However, Haitham Zaki passed away unexpectedly in Nov. 2019 from a sudden circulatory collapse. He passed away in the same month that his father, Ahmed Zaki, was born, breaking the hearts of many Egyptians.
Ahmed Zaki’s career shall live forever in our memories and hearts. With his various roles in films, he was able to ignite conversations regarding equality in Egyptian society. Today, he continues to be one of the most well-known and beloved actors in the region.