Interview with Deaf Syrian actor from Netflix’s “Black Summer”

A Deaf Syrian man, Mustafa Alabessi, had a major role in the first three episodes of Netflix’s zombie drama, “Black Summer.” His character was a Deaf man named Ryan.

Alabessi moved to Canada three years ago as a refugee. He currently lives in Regina, Saskatchewan.

He honed his acting skills with a Deaf acting collective, “Deaf Crows,” which is known across Canada.

Here is the interview.

Alex: You have an acting role on Netflix’s “Black Summer” in three episodes.

Mustafa Alabessi: Yes!

Alex: How did you get this role?

Alabessi: How? Okay, a while ago I was in an audition and had some practice. There were some directors, four men, who asked me questions on my acting experience. I didn’t know English at the time and was taught ASL. They told me what to do and I acted out roles on video. It was sent to others, who watched it and they selected me.

Alex: Did you feel inspired and honored that you were selected?

Alabessi: Absolutely. It was my first time. I’ve never done something like this and it was awesome. There was a female star and I was starstruck.

[Instagram post by @Jaime_King. It shows an image of four actors including Alabessi. The caption says, “First episode of #BlackSummer for @netflix complete!!!! So proud of our cast and crew!!!!! My friend Mustafa on the right is a Syrian refugee who made it to Canada a year ago. He is representing the deaf community with incredible heart and fearless acting. To step onto a set after just learning American Sign Language and diving right in has taught me what true love and understanding means. It is his first time acting ever and has shared lessons with us that will forever change us. Far more than we could ever ask for. Thank you Mustafa (flower emoji) Please follow him at @mustafaalabssi (heart emoji)”]

Alabessi: I was able to interact with her with an interpreter, who was really nice and talented. We were able to chat. I really enjoyed it.

Alex: You moved from Syria as a refugee to Canada. How do you feel when you think of your family and friends?

Alabessi: Oh yes. I have my parents, family, and many friends, maybe a thousand of them. We communicated in sign language. I really miss them. They are struggling, there is no food, and there is war. But they are fine and safe. I don’t have contact with them, though. I don’t know their contacts. I’m lucky to be here in Canada and I have ASL and Deaf culture, I’m able to chat with others. I appreciate it very much.

Alex: What are your dreams in the future?

Alabessi: My dream is to continue acting. I really want to have a golden statue and hold it. That is my desire.

Alex: Thank you for your time. He’s got big goals. I hope to do a news report later about him winning one of those golden trophies.

Alabessi said he credits Deaf Crows and Apple Time, a stage performance group within the collective, with giving him an opportunity to experience acting and learn from peers. He said he hopes to see more Deaf actors on the big screen.

You can watch “Black Summer” on Netflix. It is rated TV-MA. Alabessi’s character uses ASL and signs, but his parts are silent and is not captioned.

Deaf Crows and Apple Time Info:

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