Today’s Notable Young Professional is actor Mena Massoud, who pursued his passion with conviction despite important people in his life not supporting the idea initially. Read about his inspiration and where he sees himself in five years in today’s profile…
Elevator Pitch: Describe your job in a nutshell.
I get to pretend I’m someone I’m not every day.
What was the inspiration for this career route?
I grew up watching films and actors who really inspired me. I find myself watching more film now than I ever have but the movies I watched growing up stuck with me, and the love of acting just became a part of who I am. I never thought I could pursue it as a career because the home I came from didn’t support the idea, but I got to a point in my life where I decided I was going to do what I wanted to do and not what other people wanted me to do.
What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
In a way, the best part of what I do every day is the most challenging at the same time: to try to portray a story that is honest. The amazing thing about this work is that when you do that, you learn things about yourself in the process you never knew before.
What is one sign that you’ve seen over the years to suggest that your work/life balance is off?
It’s ironic but I’m not that good at pretending in real life. When things are off, the people I’m closest to can see it and they let me know.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Tough question. Seriously. I see myself doing more of what I love and less of what I don’t.
What is one major challenge that you’ve had to overcome in your career? How did you overcome it?
I came to Canada when I was three and a half years old. I grew up with two older sisters who wanted to be engineers and pharmacists and married engineers and pharmacists. My parents wanted me to be a doctor, but my heart has always been with acting.
I would have to say one major challenge is deciding to pursue what I love without hurting the people I love. I think I have done that so far, and will continue to do it by growing those relationships and showing those people that this is what makes me happy. If you allow yourself to be happy, then I think it becomes much easier to show the people around you how much you love them.
What does success look like to you? Does Money = Happiness?
Success for me is doing what I love for the rest of my life. I couldn’t ask for more than that. Money doesn’t equal happiness, no, but in the society we live in, money does play a role. We live in a world where you need money just for basic human necessities and if you don’t have those it’s incredibly difficult to set yourself up to be happy, I think.
What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
So far? So far, it’s dropping out of Neuroscience at UofT and deciding I was going to try and be an actor for the rest of my life. That’s led to everything I’ve accomplished since.
Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
Try to open up your ears and listen to what fate is telling you. It’s something I try to improve on every day. It’s incredibly easy nowadays to stop listening. There are so many distractions. Every single person has a different path and different journey – I think all you have to do is stand still and listen – but that’s damn hard!
Where is your favourite place to wine/ dine in your city and why?
It’s such a difficult question because there are hundreds of places I still want to try in Toronto, but as of now I would have to say Terroni. It’s an awesome Italian restaurant that can be both casual or a little more upscale. The location out of Queen West is just a cozy, rustic little place and it feels great.
When you’re not working how do you love to spend your “Me” time?
Some vinyl, films, and something delicious to drink. Cheese is always welcome as well.
Where is your favourite place to travel? Why?
I really want to visit Italy. I think I’ll fall in love with it, but for now, a short getaway I really enjoy is going to the Niagara-on-the-Lake for a few days.
If you had to choose a theme song, what would it be?
James Brown – I Feel Good. First album I ever had.
If you weren’t doing what you’re doing, what would you be doing?
I really don’t know. I guess I would be a neuroscientist.
Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
Coptic Orphans. It’s an incredible charity out of Egypt that supports children who have lost their families. Completely not-for-profit, the money raised goes towards housing, feeding, educating and supporting children who have nothing and nobody. Egypt is a country that has almost ninety million people and not nearly enough resources – though we’re on our way there!
What to you is notable?
The Toronto Raptors this year and anything else that helps people come together and enjoy life.
Blackberry, iPhone, Android, or Other?
Android. Since its inception. Literally.