Abdulhakeem Jomah: From doctor to actor!

Abdulhakeem Jomah: From doctor to actor!
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Abdulhakeem Jomah: From doctor to actor!
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Updated 21 April 2015

Abdulhakeem Jomah: From doctor to actor!

Abdulhakeem Jomah: From doctor to actor!

It takes a lot of courage and sacrifice to pursue your dream, to fight for that passion. One man did just that — Dr. Abdulhakeem Jomah announced last week that he will be pursuing acting and will be enrolled in the New York Film Academy later on this month. A lot of you might see this as a “crazy” decision but for Abdulhakeem, it is a chance he had to take! Arab News sat down with him and had the below chat:

What inspired you initially to become a doctor?
Abdulhakeem: A good thing to know here is that my paternal grandfather never wanted my father to be a doctor due to the hardships it ensued, I always thought the same applied to me. Being a doctor was not really the plan at all, it was a very last minute call. I had initially wanted to be a marine biologist, but my father very diplomatically shot that down, and, as a final act of (what I perceived at the time to be) rebellion against my father, I went into medicine.

How did you get into acting?
AJ: I was always a performer of sorts (Or as my mother called it, a liar). I acted in school plays, put on little shows with my younger sister for the family. Don’t even get me started on the One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest experience last year, which was easily one of the greatest times in one of the worst years in my history. I just never in my life thought to pursue it due to my family’s very military approach on education and how paramount it was that I pursue nothing but the sciences.
Tell us about the “Shifting Point” — the instance/the moment you decided to pursue acting and quit medicine?
AJ: I will reiterate, I will never quit medicine. As first and foremost, it is my true passion. But the turning point was definitely when I actually got contacted by the New York Film Academy and they expressed an interest in having me. I didn’t even think before I answered with a big fat “Yes, yes, yes!“

How do your close family members feel about your decision?
AJ: The first person to hear of this decision was my older brother (And the only person I will openly admit is better at medicine than I am, keep it to yourself!) Dr. Kareem Jomah. He was always my moral compass when it came to some of my more outlandish decisions. He expressed many concerns, but he essentially said I’d be an idiot not to see how far I could take it. Second was my lovely (As she’ll repeatedly tell you) sister, and current law student Tasneem Jomah. She was all over the place with excitement, as she was the only true supporter of my pursuing a career in entertainment even before I got into medicine. My number one fan from day one, and my only backing when it came to coming to my parents with the decision.
My mother, Saba, is not my mother, she’s my friend, we literally grew up together. She was very proud to hear what the academy said about my performance, of course, as any mother would, she threw a lot of below the belt pseudo-joking comments concerning my future and the uncertainties of it. But my promise to walk her first down the red carpet quickly swayed this decision. But she also helped me overcome the biggest obstacle in this decision, the man himself, my father, Dr. Hisham Jomah. My father is a monumentally achieved man, to live up to him would be an equally monumental task. To tell him I wanted to take a hiatus from medicine to pursue acting was met with a flurry of initial discontent and ultimately support. My father believes in me, but his roots are deeply academic, so his reservations, his interrogation was expected.
My aunts, who are essentially my sisters, granted me full support right off the bat, and for that, I will always be truly grateful.
My wife, Khayra, is a very “follow your dreams” kind of girl. So telling her was very easy. The subsequent thoughts of “Oh, you’re married, what if you fail” concerns are natural, but she didn’t bat an eye when it came to saying yes.

How can our followers follow your journey?
AJ: By following me on Twitter (@Hakeemjomah) or on Instagram (@Hakeemjomah). We’re currently setting up a website and a YouTube channel, where I’ll be posting vlog posts every fortnight or so to keep everyone updated.

What do you expect from being at the New York Film Academy?
AJ: I’ve no illusions of living the American dream and being an overnight millionaire, but that’s never why I chose to do it. Medicine is very lucrative, if I wanted money; I’d stick with that and call it a day. I have a true, very deep, love for the craft, and I want to show it off. I want people to know that we’re not some desolate desert that houses no talent. If nothing else, I want underground artists in the Gulf and Middle East to unearth themselves and show us what they have!
Art is young in the Kingdom but it’s there, and people don’t flaunt their talents nearly enough as they should, I want to change that. I want there to be a flourishing arts community here, and I’d love to say that I was in the vanguard of that art movement.

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