by Ashley Martin, Regina Leader-Post
Three months ago, Mustafa Alabssi didn’t know what an audition was.
Two months ago, he was on a film set in Alberta, dodging faux-zombies alongside Jaime King in a new Netflix series.
The 19-year-old had acted once before, in his high school class play Apple Time, in June. On stage in a small auditorium in Regina, it was easy to see that Alabssi was a natural.
“The minute he walks on stage ... you could watch from behind and see, the entire audience’s heads turning and looking at him, even if he’s just standing there doing nothing, because he just has that - they call it presence,” said Chrystene Ells, a long-time actor, director and theatre coach who has worked with Alabssi in the almost-two years since he moved to the city.
“When I first started working with Mustafa as an actor in Apple Time, I told (teachers) Joanne (Weber) and Michelle (Grodecki) within two years, Mustafa will be on the big screen. ... And I was off by two years, because six weeks later, people knew who he was and he got invited to audition.”
Ells is an artist-in-residence in Weber’s class, the Regina Public School Division’s deaf and hard of hearing program, formerly at Thom Collegiate and, since September, at Winston Knoll. For three years, the class has formed the theatre and arts collective, the Deaf Crows.
Alabssi is deaf, and the character he played in the TV series, Black Summer, is deaf, too.
“It was an interesting idea to have a deaf character,” said producer Jodi Binstock. “When you go to the deaf character’s perspective, the sound drops out for the audience so you’re as conscious as he is that there’s no sound.”
[Read more on https://leaderpost.com/entertainment/local-arts/mustafa-alabssis-incredible-journey-deaf-syrian-refugee-to-make-his-netflix-debut-in-2019>https://leaderpost.com/entertainment/local-arts/mustafa-alabssis-incredible-journey-deaf-syrian-refugee-to-make-his-netflix-debut-in-2019]