Why did you quit acting
"The teachers had given up on me"
Elyas M’Barek's school career was like a roller coaster ride. From grammar school down to secondary school and back again. When he graduated from high school, he was top of the class. His discipline also applies to his
Acting career helped
Elyas, you became known as Cem in the series "Turkish for Beginners". Cem fails his high school diploma. How did your own school career go?
I got off to a mediocre to good start and then totally lost it during puberty because I didn't feel like it anymore. I stopped studying - and had to repeat a number of classes. I went from high school down to secondary school. That's where I got the corner because my success gave me new motivation. I started studying again and made up for everything. I even did really well in my Abitur. That was an important experience. I realized that you should never give up.
For a while you were one of the worst students.
Yes. My teachers had given up on me and my parents probably thought the boy would be nothing. And it still worked. In the end it even went so far that I graduated from high school as the best in my class. It was important to see that if you do something and don't give up on yourself, you can always somehow make it.
After graduating from high school, you started studying business administration ...
That was more of an alibi. I already shot during my school days, but there weren't any bigger roles for me like today with “Turkish for Beginners” or “Fack ju Göhte”. In this respect, I started studying business administration back then because I thought that then I could still study film production based on that.
Did you also start your studies to please your parents?
Yes, they should have the feeling that I'm doing something right. But I didn't just do it for her, I did it for myself too. As a safeguard. According to the motto: I'll do something useful!
But at some point my studies ended ...
After the second season “Turkish for Beginners” I stopped. Although I even studied for five semesters in theory. But I was not physically present. I also only made three bills.
At the beginning of your acting career you played many young people with a migrant background.
That's true. But I never saw that as a problem. It's always like that, when you're a young actor, you're almost always only offered cliché roles, because outwardly you fulfill a certain role profile. Very few people find that they are immediately blessed with great roles. But I never saw that as a problem. I was happy that I was allowed to shoot at all.
Did you know early on that you wanted to be an actor?
Not really. Actually, I never really thought about my future when I went to school. When I was in front of the camera for the first time, I knew it.
Can you describe that in more detail, please.
I was absolutely thrilled working on such a film set. From the working atmosphere. Of these totally orderly processes in absolute chaos. I was also impressed by the people who worked there. Until then, I only knew narrow-minded professions. I thought it was great to see all these circus people, some of whom are still the coolest dudes at 40 or 50.
However, it was not possible to enter the film industry through your family.
Exactly - my grandpa once had a cinema, but that's the only reference to film. My brother used to film as a child, and a casting agent saw me with him. And then she kept inviting me. Until it worked out at some point. It was actually a coincidence.
You didn't go to drama school. Would you say it is actually necessary?
You can never say that. Of course, it is never wrong to learn a trade. Personally, I learned a lot from working myself. From older colleagues whom I have asked for advice. I think that if you want to go to the theater, you should definitely do a classical education. This is not absolutely necessary for the film - even if many colleagues would certainly contradict me. I do a lot from my gut instinct and let my intuition guide me. No drama school could teach me that anyway.
In general: What did you do right?
I have always been ambitious and have been curious and open. And I was always well organized: I tried to make contacts, find an agency and just take care of everything else.
And what's wrong?
I think yes, you can never do anything wrong. Everyone makes wrong decisions, but that is also part of the process because mistakes make you learn again. But I can't have done that much wrong, otherwise I wouldn't be happy in what I'm doing.
What advice can you give new high school graduates for their path in life?
I advise everyone to only do what they really really really want to do. And you have to listen to your heart, not so much your mind or other people! Because you mustn't forget: Your job is what you spend 70 percent of your day doing. You shouldn't be unhappy about this.
The interview was conducted by Lars Christiansen
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