When Samba was 12 years old he remembers the CD-ROM game “Steven Spielberg’s Director’s Chair.” The game allowed an individual to work with Steven Spielberg to make a short film in the Universal Studios lot. This game fueled Samba’s desire for acting. He knew he would become an actor one-day in Hollywood.
In 2001, at age 18, Samba moved to Holland from Ethiopia to study theatre. He wrote a 7-minute comedic monologue for open mic night in college. When he went on stage to perform he remembers people were dying of laughter. “Someone came up to me and said, “You’re such a funny stand-up comedian.” “I was like ‘oh, okay. Guess I know how to do stand-up comedy!”
Samba went on to win the biggest national comedy contest in Holland in 2006 and toured around the country with 3 comedy specials. Samba with his knack to pretend, do voices, act-outs, and sound effects lend itself perfectly to acting.
“When I get on stage, my goal is to inspire you and make you laugh as hard as you can. I have a very multicultural background: I’m half African, and half European. My mother is a Muslim and my dad is a Christian. All that combined with my travel and education have made me a very global-minded and a unifying performer. My shows are upbeat, high energy, and make you feel good. Also you will learn new things about the world from my unique perspective and make you leave high on joy and inspiration. There’s no greater feeling than seeing people cry of laughter. In Africa, they say “when you laugh, you share your soul with another.” Comedy to me is about that; reminding everyone that we are not that different and that laughter heals and unites us all.
In 2011 Samba took his talent to America. When he moved to LA, within 3 months he won the March Comedy Madness Award comedy competition featuring 64 of LA’s best up-and-coming comedians at the Comedy Store. Immediately after Samba became a regular performer at the comedy club where many comedy legends started their careers like Richard Pryor, Robin Williams and, Jim Carrey. Believe it or not, he was also working part-time as a Palm-Reader.
In LA he auditioned as a Somalian pirate for Tom Hanks movie ‘Captain Phillips’ and he was told that he didn’t look African enough. So he had to redefine how Hollywood saw him and he started perfecting his Indian accent. He began auditioning for East-Indian, Middle Eastern, and Latin American acting roles and has achieved much success.
His first break in Hollywood was for a feature film “I Think My Facebook Friend Is Dead” for Amazon Studios. He played a lead character and was nominated for Best Actor. He remembers watching it on the big screen and thinking, “Wow, I’m doing it, I’m actually an actor in Hollywood like I dreamed of as a kid in Ethiopia.”
His most recent feature film “Tiger Hunter” written and directed by Lena Khan, a Muslim American woman has won the Best Film, Best Director and Best Ensemble Cast Awards at the LA Asian Pacific Film Festival.
The “Tiger Hunter” not surprisingly is a comedy about an Indian immigrant who moves to America in the 70s to pursue success and wins over the love of his life. It stars Danny Pudi (Community), Jon Heder (Napoleon Dynamite), and Karen David (Once Upon A Time). Samba plays a fun role as one of Danny Pudi’s roommates. “This movie means a lot to me because it played in theaters all over the US, and it’s the movie that got me into SAG-AFTRA.” It’s about everything I stand for: laughter, the coming together of cultures and being a positive role model in life.” “It’s a great film to be a part of because of its positive message on immigration and diversity, being true to yourself when moving to America and working together with others to make your dreams come true.”
Samba’s talent also spans to the video game “Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus.” “I got to do motion capture, which I love as I’m a physical performer.” The game won Best Action Game at The Game Awards and is nominated for a BAFTA. Another award-winning project for Samba was the lead in a viral prank commercial called ‘Amazing Street Hack’, which got over 19 Million views on Youtube and won the Bronze Cannes Lions Award. One of the biggest commercial awards.
Samba shares his final thoughts, “You are unique, there is nobody else like you. So play that unique musical note that the universe wants you to play in this great symphony of life. Be fearless, be humble, be grateful, support other people’s journeys and always follow your heart. Leave the world a better place. I want to be a voice for multi-cultural. Inspiring peace and understanding between different cultures and religions, and showing that diversity is what makes us stronger, more beautiful and better. And now more than ever we need to hear that message. So shine bright!”
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Tiger Hunter: https://www.netflix.com/title/80202076