"I think the best thing that I could do in life is to live openly and authentically and happily, and if I'm doing that, I know I'm making them happy because that's all they would want for me," actor and activist Omar Sharif Jr. recently said on an Arabic TV news program. "They would want me to be happy. That's what grandparents should want for their grandchildren."
The interview took place on presenter Jaafar Abdul Karim Arabic news program Shabab Talk, and Sharif Jr. tells Out that he was impressed by how the program turned out. "I'm so thrilled that the topics of religion, sexuality, and politics we're covered respectfully," he explains. "I'd give kudos to the journalist who asked the questions, because it's a stark contrast from journalist like Mona Al Iraki who orchestrated the bathhouse raid and the sensationalized headlines."
It was Sharif Jr.'s first appearance on Arabic TV, and he wanted to discuss his grandfather Omar Sharif, who recently died, along with his upcoming film, The Secret Scripture, from director Jim Sheridan, which stars Theo James, Eric Bana, Rooney Mara, and Vanessa Redgrave.
"If I could give one [lesson], is to be open enough to be who you are," Sharif stated on the program. "Don't pay attention to the conversation happening around you. Pay attention to the conversation happening in your heart and in your head because that's the only thing you can control."
Sharif Jr. didn't shy away from discussing potentially controversial subjects, including his work with GLAAD and said that he hoped his appearance on Egyptian TV would help educate. "I'm a son, I'm a brother, I'm a coworker, I'm a friend," he said. "I'm not a fact, or a figure, or a statistic. I'm not a moral or an ethical debate."
The interview could be seen as a significant milestone for coverage of LGBT people and issues in the region.