A Star is Born: How the Fulbright Program Empowered Me to Chase My Acting Dreams
I never had it easy, but I didn’t mind working hard for my goals. I started classical dancing and acting when I was 10, and I was at the top of my undergraduate class in filmmaking and cinematography. I am a very passionate and diligent individual, but even people like me can sometimes lose hope and faith in themselves when exposed to the hardships that come along with being an actor.
As a “struggling actor,” I am still trying to make a name for myself in a highly competitive field that has no guarantees. I dream of being able to make a decent living from acting in the MENA region. I dream of being able to work on diverse projects and telling stories that would evoke empathy in those who watch it. Even though I know I’ve worked as hard as I possibly can, it is still difficult knowing that some dreams go unfulfilled for a few years.
That’s why becoming a Fulbrighter turned everything around for me. It empowered me as an individual and as a woman tremendously by giving me the validation and the motivation I needed to keep going. Being a Fulbrighter helped me regain faith in myself, my dreams, and my career. The Fulbright experience challenged how I perceive and see myself; moving my whole life to the United States and embarking on an academic journey made me realize that I was a much stronger and a much more capable woman than I thought.
As a woman, I felt like I always had to work harder to achieve my goals. However, I grew up seeing my mother raise me on her own for most of my life, and she taught me that as women, we can do whatever we set our minds to. She hustled and juggled multiple jobs throughout her life with great determination, energy, and creativity. In fact, it was my mother who pushed me to apply for Fulbright because I didn’t believe in myself like she did at the time. I look up to her because she never seems to lose hope or tenacity, and I hope that one day I can be as hopeful and as strong as she is.
When I was a former principal ballet dancer and frequent instructor, I was asked to be a mentor for young girls pursuing classical dance training. Watching young girls look at me as someone they aspired to be made me realize that representation for girls truly does matter. It was in that moment that I realized I wanted to continue working as an actor, but I never felt like I received the right opportunity to turn that dream into a reality. However, being here in Los Angeles, doing my Master’s in Acting for Film in Hollywood is a complete game-changer; it automatically puts me in a much more prestigious place as an actor, performer, and artist. I am still hopeful for more acting opportunities, but I have been so touched by the messages I received from friends and family about how my current journey has inspired them to start theirs, and that means the world to me.
This goes to all the young women out there who might feel like their dreams have gone unfulfilled: I know how brutal it can be. I know how we can sometimes feel like the whole world is either against us or looking down on us just because of our gender. I know how we sometimes have to work twice as hard as men just to keep our heads above water. I know it can get difficult, and it can be easy to lose hope. But here I am, a living example of what might be waiting for you down the road if you just hold on a little longer. Maybe you will be starting a whole new journey tomorrow. Sometimes, things don’t go according to plan, but trust me when I tell you that things work out. Thank you, Fulbright, for helping me realize I can go after my dreams and encouraging other young women to do the same.
Yasmin is a first year Fulbrighter from Egypt. She is studying Acting for Film at New York Film Academy in L.A.