Interview

Talented Young Actor Samir Zaim-Sassi On “No Longer Suitable for Use”, His Character & Working with Laith Nakli

JAMO Magazine
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Samir Zaim-Sassi is a young talented actor who recently starred in “No Longer Suitable for Use,” an Official Selection of the Tribeca Film Festival Shorts Program. The short film portrays the story of a Syrian FBI informant and single father Samir. “He faces an impossible choice when he gets one final chance to avoid deportation by setting up a target in a terrorism sting”. The award-winning film was directed by Julian Joslin.

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Hello, Samir, and thanks for joining me today.
Thank you so much for having me!

What did you like the most about being involved in “No Longer Suitable for Use”?
I was so excited to be in a film produced by Mark Berger and Sam Rockwell and written by Julian Joslin. They are so talented, creative, and inspiring and I was so happy to get to know them and be part of this film.

What can you tell us about your character?
I played the young son of (Ramy’s Laith Nakli). My dad in the movie was a Syrian-Egyptian immigrant working as an informant for the FBI. What’s funny is his name was Samir and so that was my real name so every time someone said “Samir” on-set, I would answer, “yes?”. Watching Laith get into character was very inspiring for me as a child actor. At first, I was a little nervous being around him as he is well known in the industry and has years of acting experience. I simply just walked up to him and said, “Hi Laith so can you give me advice on how to get into character,?” and he said “Samir, don’t act, please just be yourself and this is why we chose you for this role.” So that was the best advice anyone could give to me because I didn’t have to do much and I just kind of let myself be me. It is easier to play a part where you can more naturally relate to the character and for this role, I was able to do that!

How did you feel when the film was officially selected by the Tribeca Film Festival?
I was so happy and remember jumping up and down when I first found out that the film “No Longer Suitable for Use” was selected by the Tribeca Film Festival. I remember I started to Face-time all of my family and friends to tell them the amazing news! 

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How does your family support you?
My family is the reason why I got into acting and the reason why I love what I do. Growing up, I always saw my older brother memorize lines, practice in front of me and sometimes he would even let me repeat after him to test my memory. Even though I couldn’t read at the time, memorizing some lines helped me get better at reading and writing now. My mom and brothers always cheer me on and push me to be the best I can be by being there for me in every step I take. When I am not acting or auditioning for roles, I am always playing basketball.

How would you want to change the world when you grow up? 
I always wanted to follow my grandmother’s path and help people who are less fortunate. I love saving my clothes and shoes and then I pack them all up and include some toys and give them to my grandmother to help a lot of kids who don’t really have those things. I love to see other kids smile, especially knowing I made an impact on their lives. 

Did you miss your family and friends a lot while filming?
I did miss my family and friends a lot while filming but thank goodness for facetime because we call each other a lot. I love when I get to ride my bike, play basketball, or practice my lines with my family, which is why when I film it can make me feel sad to leave them but I know I will have a fun time filming and then I get to come back home to play with everyone again. My cousins are so awesome though because they call me and we quickly get online and play Roblox and FaceTime in between takes and so that makes me feel like I am at home with them.

How does it feel to achieve success at such a young age?
It feels really amazing to me and I am so grateful because I know so many people who work so hard to achieve success. I am excited to see how much more I can do in my life when I grow up, especially with filming and sharing what I love with the world.

What are your favorite things to do outside of acting?
I love watching and playing basketball because, just like acting, I can be creative with my basketball moves and always need to work hard to push myself to be the best I can be. I also love to ride my bike, play with my friends and cousins and swim a lot during my free time.

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How did you find working with Julian Joslin and Laith Nakli?
That is a super-duper big question because they are the reason I continue to act and love what I do. Julian inspires me so much because the movie he directed and wrote is amazing! He really motivated me and opened up so many different possibilities for me. When I got to work with Laith he was always so kind and treated me like I was his own son. He cheered me on and made me feel comfortable and part of a family on set, which I know is extremely special. I had the most amazing time working with both of them! 

Who are your favorite actress and actor? 
My idol as an actor is Cameron Boyce because I remember always watching Cameron on Disney Channel and always hearing how giving and passionate he was. He started acting at a really young age like me and not only did the characters he played always inspire me but also the person he was. Cameron was always so silly and fun to watch, which is why I hope to be like him someday. My favorite actress is Scarlette Johanson because not only does she get to be a superhero role model in the characters she plays, but in real life for me too. I look up to the way she is able to bring out such a strong and amazing character ready to save the world and who is also ready to make you laugh!

What role do you want to get in the near future?
In the near future, I hope to get a role that will let me mix being my true self and always push me to find other sides to who I am. I like being able to be myself because that is when the “real me” is able to open up and show my true emotions. I also enjoy being able to step outside of my comfort zone and create another side of me that I never would have known without acting. This is when I get to have the most fun, get silly and be creative when I work to bring a character to life through me.

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Any upcoming projects you can tell us about?
I currently worked on two commercials very recently that is coming out soon but cannot say what they are just yet. I had so much fun on-set and they gave me so much candy when my mom wasn’t looking. I also had a really intense director session for a new kid series show. I have an incredibly awesome Manager Kim Matuka who does so much for me, an agent that always has my back (Bonnie Schumofsky Bloom at Stewart Talent), and an awesome publicist – I just love my team and I owe so much to them for all they do.

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 Anelle Aibassova
Anelle Aibassova

My name is Anelle Aibassova. I am a 21-year-old UK graduate. I have been passionate about fashion, film production, photography, and music since I was a child. I love traveling, singing, and writing in my free time.

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