Barkhad Abdi’s Rise to Prominence

Barkhad Abdi's Rise to Prominence

Adam Serpa, News Editor

Twenty-seven year old, Barkhad Abdi, made the most of his acting gig for the film “Captain Phillips.” With no acting experience, he performed as the lead hijacker of the Maersk Alabama. However, adapting to new places and understandings is nothing new for the Barkhad.

At the age of six, he and his family left Somalia and moved to Yemen. He did not receive much of an education, but his involvement in soccer helped him to learn the Arabic language.  Barkhad and his family won a U.S. Green Card Lottery, which allowed them to move to Minneapolis. The U.S. Green Card Lottery randomly selects 50,000 citizens of low-income countries each year to permanently live and work in the United States. When he arrived in Minneapolis at fourteen years old, he was able to learn the English language by listening to Jay-Z songs and watching episodes of “Seinfeld.” Barkhad left the violence of Somalia behind and worked as a chauffeur before acquiring his acting occupation.

Barkhad learned of the opportunity to audition for “Captain Phillips” at his friend’s house when they saw an advertisement on television.  He was up against eight hundred other contestants and worked his way to be one of the lead roles with Tom Hanks.  When Barkhad was asked about working with Tom Hanks, he said, “ I can’t believe I’m doing a scene with Forrest Gump Guy!” There was some questioning about Barkhad being portrayed as a “traitor to Somalians” by acting in the film. However, he did trust Paul Greengrass, the director, and wasn’t worried about the movie and it turned out to be a huge success. He won a BAFTA for best supporting actor and was nominated for an Oscar. Barkhad earned $65,000 two years ago for starring in the $55 million film. Barkhad Abdi is now searching for his next acting gig and he is reportedly negotiating to star in the movie “The Place that Hits the Sun,” as a South African marathon champion