Sayyid El Alami, the revelation of the “Oussekine” series

Suddenly, he leans over the table. Small rigor dressing. Sayyid Al Alami pretends to readjust his leather jacket and button his shirt: “And here I am staring at the camera lens,” he concludes with a piercing black look. A comedy lesson in the middle of a Belleville café? One Friday in May, the 22-year-old actor replays one of the first scenes ofOussekine. Broadcast on Disney +, this mini-series traces the assassination of the Franco-Algerian student, on December 6, 1986, by aerial police officers. Fiction first seizes the young man, a few hours before the drama, in a moment of joy. He prepares to spend the evening in a jazz club, located around the Sorbonne, unaware of his fatal destiny. Fittings, checks in the mirror and a small smile of self-satisfaction. “This scene really could have been cheesybut he executed each gesture with a confusing naturalness”, observes Antoine Chevrollier, director of fiction. He also selected him from among 520 actors, seduced by his modernity as much as his political awareness.

Are we not witnessing the emergence of a great actor? Not far from the café where I meet Sayyid El Alami, his face unfolds on life-size promotional posters. These first signs of notoriety nevertheless left him stoic: “Friends sent me a photo of the poster, but I haven’t seen it yet,” he replies, leaning against the window of the café. The eyes are laughing, the “o’s” tinged with a southern accent, but the enthusiasm remains measured. He advances cautiously, as if everything could disappear in an instant. As if his career was a miracle in an environment where cinema is passed on as a heritage. This youngest of five siblings, born to Moroccan immigrant parents, first made his mark on Toulouse football fields. From the age of four, he no longer lets go of the ball. Every day, the same routine: go home, train for five hours, then refine your technique in front of YouTube videos. It was the time of Franck Ribéry and Samir Nasri at Olympique de Marseille, his favorite club. And also evenings listening to Jul and Naps in a Clio with friends. “Rap saved me, but it killed a lot of people,” he concedes gravely. His comrades fantasize the life of a gangster and embark on small deals. He already has his feet on the ground: “As Soprano said, I made the difference between Al Pacino and Tony Montana in scarface “.

And then the family keeps watch. The big brother forbids him to listen to songs that are too violent. As for his mother, she dissuades him from a career in football for fear that he will join the cohort of “broken destinies” by football. At home, France Culture is left to loop and insinuate itself into the brains of the little ones. Nothing is out of the ordinary. “My parents fought to have cultural capital, says Sayyid El Alami today. This influences everything, but the working classes are not aware of it”. At 12, he took his first theater lessons at the MJC (Maison des Jeunes et de la Culture) in his neighborhood. Two terms are enough to consolidate his vocation. The memory of the first castings remains vague, but he tells me more about his attempts as a teenager: a cassette sent for a film by Abdellatif Kechiche, which escapes him because of his age. Or an audition for When you’re 17 ofAndré Techine, where he gives in to stage fright: “I was not comfortable. I lost all my confidence when I arrived.

Baccalaureate in hand, Sayyid El Alami pursues his dreams in Paris. A period of intense loneliness during which the 18-year-old boy goes to castings in vain. “But I was so determined, it had no impact,” he said, pounding his packet of sugar on the table. He has no other “plan” than the cinema. No room for error either: “I don’t have a network, I don’t have any money, I’m not a ‘son of’. We come from nothing. This lucidity feeds his rage to succeed, as his best friend Samir Decazza, whom he met within the 1000 faces association, points out. “Some turn that anger into bitterness. It made him elbow grease, ”he remarks. After a long series of auditions, in 2019 he landed the main role of Messiah, a Netflix original creation. He embodies Jibril Medina, a Palestinian orphan under the thumb of a modern-day Jesus. And finally realizes his dream of playing in an American series. The night he hears the news, he arrives at 3am, in tears, at his best friend’s house. But as soon as the trailer aired, the series was accused of being “evil and anti-Islamic propaganda”. How did he experience this controversy? “Bad,” he replies frankly. Frightened to see his first major role tinged with controversy, he withdrew and gave no interviews. This also hinders its ascent. “Some journalists, met outside the framework of the promotion, told me that my notoriety was going to explode. The reality is much more violent,” he notes.

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Sayyid El Alami, the revelation of the “Oussekine” series


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