Tunisian star Sarah Nasri is adept at overcoming challenges.
Like the rest of the world, things took a turn with COVID-19 but the resilient and formidable actress continues to carve her own path with her new online series, ‘Finding Home’. The series has already attracted a loyal online audience and is proof of how resilient and innovative foreign artists can be despite challenging circumstances preventing conventional shooting schedules.
“Being locked inside my house allowed me to sit with myself and appreciate all the significant moments that have shaped my life,” Sarah ponders in our zoom call.
“One of those moments was when I first left my family and my country when I was 18 to attend university in Germany. That type of introspection gave birth to the basis of my performance.”
While the rest of the world continues to navigate a changing landscape, Sarah indeed has thrived in a changing set of circumstances, using the period to reflect and pivot.
‘Finding Home’ concerns 18 year old Colombian student, Sofia Rodriguez. We follow her move to the US to pursue her studies and her journey to find her new home while struggling to overcome the language and culture barrier that such a move presents.
An apt title starring someone of Sarah’s diverse background, ‘Finding Home’ explores the seemingly transient and restricting, but equally liberating impact that multifarious experiences can have on an individual’s quest to belong. It also allowed Sarah to tap into her own experiences in the filming and rehearsal process, something which was both incredibly cathartic and healing.
“Sofia’s struggle to communicate in English makes her stay in the US in the first few weeks incredibly challenging,” Sarah explains. “She is unable to communicate her needs, or even have a conversation with her landlord, to fill the sudden emptiness she feels since she left home.”
When asked to describe what the story explores thematically, Sarah offers very astute thoughts.
“Finding Home’ explores the struggle between what you want and what you need. The main character wants a home that she can’t find and she needs to fulfill her dreams that she's about to abandon.”
In one key sequence, Sarah delivers a powerful speech when talking to her dad over the phone, to tell him that she’s coming back home and giving up on her dreams forever. On screen, it showcases Sarah’s expert use of emotional memory, much like the great Egyptian actor before her, Ahmed Zaki. The speech also presents how the talented actor taps into a comedic understanding of challenging moments, not unlike iconic actress Isabella Rosselini. Prominent actress Diane Kelber herself compared the latter to Sara, or should it be said, the other way around?
“Any comparisons to iconic actresses is a compliment, so I’ll take it, I like Charlize Theron’s approach to work and I like her dedication and commitment,” Sarah beams.
She continues. “It’s especially impressive that she's also not American and she succeeded in creating a space for herself in Hollywood, relying on her talent rather than her beauty.”
As an actor, Sarah herself knows all too well how her ethnically diverse heritage has been both a sword and a shield - something which has rendered her increasingly castable in recent years as Hollywood craves a more equal representation, but one that also initially found her either pigeon-holed, or so broad and appealing that producers were unsure where to put her.
Over time, however, it has proved to be more of an advantage than a disadvantage. Case in point, she’s also credited alongside Macedonian-Australian actress Mia Challis in ‘User Not Found’.
“My diverse background allows me to represent different cultures, and people from different countries. It also gives me a chance to tap into my abilities, as I can speak multiple languages, I can also speak English with different accents like French, Spanish, Arabic and German.” Excitedly, Sarah brings up her other passions. “I’m also an accomplished Latin dancer and I play guitar and violin. I have a science background as well, as a software engineer. All those skills give me the flexibility to play any character with ease.”
As an afterthought, Sarah also adds that she is a salsa dancer and kick boxer. Just casually. It’s these afterthoughts which characterize her as a person who is high-achieving with her skills and accomplishments but modest in her communication of them.
“I definitely was challenged when I came to the US initially, but am very grateful for how I have been embraced.” Indeed, after COVID-19 restrictions have lifted, Sarah is due to start filming a US project - the details of which are to remain under wraps. For now, and while the world waits she’s “very excited.”