PREMIO MAGUEY ACTIVIST

OMAR SHARIF JR.

Omar obtained both a Master's Degree in Comparative Politics from The London School of Economics and a degree in Performing Arts from The Lee Strasberg Institute by the age of 26.

Omar garnered considerable attention from international ad campaigns and as a spokesperson for Calvin Klein and Coca-Cola. In 2007, he was offered a role in a hit Egyptian TV series and went on to film two Arabic language films.

In 2013, shortly after the Muslim Brotherhood was elected to parliament in Egypt, Omar published an open letter in “The Advocate,” in which he came out as gay and half-Jewish, and questioned the new Egyptian government's commitment to basic human rights and diversity. He is the first public personality to ever come out as openly gay in the Arab World. He immediately faced a barrage of condemnation, criticism and threats of violence. Sharif’s passport was revoked under the Morsi regime and the Sisi government’s increased crackdown on gay Egyptians has made it impossible for Sharif to return.

After coming out, Sharif began working with GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation), an organization which promotes LGBTQ equality by ensuring positive media portrayals of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans community, and served as the organization’s Eastern National Spokesperson for two years, speaking out on behalf of those who are silenced in Egypt and elsewhere. His activism has also focused on the use of culture and media to promote free and open societies in the Middle East.

In 2015, Omar was hired by director Jim Sheridan to act opposite Eric Bana and Rooney Mara in The Secret Scripture. In 2016, they collaborated again on 11th Hour, with Salma Hayek, in an artistic response to the global politics of division.

Omar currently serves as Ambassador for the Human Rights Foundation and travels extensively promoting freedom. He is also an Ambassador for the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation, and is currently starring in the television drama series Mélange with Morgan Fairchild. He will soon begin filming season 3 of the hit Israeli television series The Beauty and The Baker.

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