Ahmed Zaki’s 71st Birthday – Today’s doodle, illustrated by Cairo-based guest artist Muhammad Mustafa, celebrates the 71st birthday of one of Egyptian cinema’s most iconic leading men, the actor Ahmed Zaki. Nicknamed the “Black Tiger” after his titular role in a 1984 boxing film, Zaki was one of the first dark-skinned actors to play leading roles in Egyptian films and helped to change the face of the Arab film industry forever.
Ahmed Zaki was born on this day in 1949 in the city of Zagazig, roughly 50 miles north of the Egyptian capital of Cairo. Zaki was admitted to study dramatic arts in Cairo based on his evident acting talent, despite lacking the high school diploma the institute required, and he graduated in the early ‘70s. In the beginning of his career he appeared in a number of plays, most notably the comedy Hello, Shalaby and Madrasat al-Mushaghibin (School of the Rowdies), a production that served as a launching pad for many prominent Egyptian actors.
Zaki went on to act in more than 60 films and two dozen plays across his career that spanned over three decades. Today’s Doodle depicts references to some of his contributions to Egyptian film, including boxing gloves for Al Nimr Al Aswad (The Black Tiger), a camera for Edhak El-Sora Tetlaa’ Helwa (Smile, the Picture Will Come Out Fine), and the animals from Arba’a Fi Muhimma Rasmiya (Four on an Official Mission). He was known for taking on films that touched upon socio-political issues and earned acclaim for his nuanced portrayals of complex historical figures. A student of the famous acting method of the Russian actor and teacher Konstantin Stanislavsky, Zaki deeply committed to his characters, studying every aspect of their lives and psychology to craft his performance.
In honor of his transformative cinematic achievements, Zaki was honored with Egypt’s prestigious Merit of Arts award.
Happy birthday, Ahmed Zaki, and thank you for making history on the big screen and off!
Guest Artist Q&A
Today’s Doodle was created in partnership with Cairo-based guest artist, Muhammad Mustafa. Below, he shares his thoughts behind the making of this Doodle:
Q: Why was this topic meaningful to you personally?
A: Ahmed Zaki’s legacy is embedded in our Egyptian culture, so this project was very closely tied to my childhood.
Q: What were your first thoughts when you were approached about the project?
A: I was really excited and deeply honored because it was a magnificent way for me to pay tribute to Ahmed Zaki. At the same time, I felt a massive responsibility towards his talent and legacy, so I felt devoted to capturing such greatness.
Q: Did you draw inspiration from anything in particular for this Doodle?
A: I drew inspiration from his most iconic and touching performances throughout his career.
Q: What do you hope people take away from your Doodle?
A: I hope people see that Ahmed Zaki was able to camouflage so effortlessly into any performance, and his stunning abilities left us with a wide range of characters with different polarities.
You can find more about Ahmed Zaki’s 71st Birthday on the official Google Doodle Page