The Schmooze

For the Unlikely Stars of 'Ajami,' Hollywood Is a Balancing Act

The actors of the Oscar-nominated Israeli film, “Ajami” are trying to soak up as much glamour as they can in America’s movie capital. It’s not only their first time in Hollywood; it’s their first time in America.

“Ajami” cast members are not professional actors. Most are Arab residents of Ajami — a violence-stricken neighborhood of Jaffa, where the film is set — and all are ordinary Israelis who thought it could be interesting to join this unusual movie project. They were handpicked by the film’s writers and directors Scandar Copti and Yaron Shani.

Now, seven years after the idea of “Ajami” began to take shape, these amateur actors are starting to feel the glare of stardom. In Israel, they’ve already become local celebrities and their visit to Hollywood made this even clearer — with cameras and reporters capturing their every move.

It’s a tricky balancing act for the actors, who left their day jobs in Jaffa, and made the trip to Los Angeles. Talking to reporters they struggled between natural enthusiasm and a need to maintain their cool, and not to let the glory get to their heads.

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For the Unlikely Stars of 'Ajami,' Hollywood Is a Balancing Act

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