On Feb. 24, Egyptian-American actor Rami Malek made history as the first actor of Arab origins to win an Academy Award for Best Actor.
The 37-year-old now has a number of prestigious awards under his belt, including an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor for his role in Mr. Robot and a Golden Globe for Best Drama Actor for his role in Bohemian Rhapsody.
Having been born in the U.S. to Egyptian immigrant parents, the actor regularly expresses pride in his roots. In fact, he has spoken about his experience as a first-generation American multiple times in the past.
Every once in a while, he makes an effort to speak (broken) Arabic. Malek does not shy away from his Egyptian heritage, here's proof:
1. When he highlighted his Egyptian roots in his Oscar's acceptance speech
Malek took home an Oscar for his role as Freddie Mercury in the Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody during the 91st Academy Awards.
In his acceptance speech, Malek noted the importance of Freddie Mercury's story in inspiring individuals trying to discover their voices and struggling to express their authentic identities. He then said:
"I am the son of immigrants from Egypt. I'm a first-generation American, and part of my story is being written right now."
2. And went on to acknowledge the beauty of Middle Eastern culture
After his Oscar win, Malek spoke with the press backstage, where he was asked what message he would send talented young Arabs.
In response, the actor advised Arab artists to embrace the beauty of their culture the way he did.
"When I grew up as a kid, part of me felt like I needed to shed some of that. I didn't feel like I fit in, I definitely felt like the outsider. As I got older I realized just how beautiful my heritage and my tradition is. The wealth of culture, magic, music, film, and just pure art that comes out of the Middle East. I am so privileged to represent it, and to anyone from there, we all got a shot at this," he said.
3. When he described his deep connection to Egyptian culture
In an interview with GQ Middle East, Malek asserted he is an unapologetic Egyptian who feels connected to his heritage.
"There's no first-generation, or second-generation removed. I am Egyptian. I grew up listening to Egyptian music. I loved Umm Kulthum. I loved Omar Sharif," he said.
"These are my people. I feel so gorgeously tied to the culture and the human beings that exist there. I acknowledge that I have a different experience, but I am so enamoured and intertwined with Egyptian culture. It is the fabric of who I am," Malek added.
4. When he said he hopes to work on an Egyptian film
In an interview with BBC Arabic's Husam Asi, Malek said he hopes to perform in an Egyptian film, adding that he would definitely work on his Arabic if he takes part in such a project.
"That would be a great dream to accomplish," he added.
In another interview with Asi, Malek said he enjoyed watching Arab films and TV shows while growing up. He also praised up-and-coming filmmakers from the region.
5. When he asserted the importance of representing Egypt
In a 2018 interview with Vogue Arabia, Malek admitted that he has faced prejudice due to his heritage, but he said it "toughened" him up.
"It's important to represent my Egyptian heritage. I grew up in Los Angeles, which not everybody knows has a big Egyptian community. I think that's probably because the climate is similar to Cairo. We spoke Arabic in the family home while growing up," he added.
6. When he said he was in touch with his Arab roots
Speaking with Al-Arabiya in 2017, Malek said he was "in touch with his Arab roots" more than ever before, especially in light of the refugee crisis.
Additionally, he said he is concerned about the problems going on in the Middle East and Northern Africa, adding that he feels responsible for shedding light on the struggles of people in the region.
"I feel an obligation, as an Egyptian-American, to really help everyone there and relay the kind of strife and struggles that exist there and all around that world," he said at the time.