Egyptian Mohammed Tarek is ‘on a roll’ as he lends his voice to Warner Bros. ‘DC League of Super-Pets’
DUBAI: It’s a strange life being a content creator. Take Egyptian social media star Mohammed Tarek, for example. He is a day dentist – graduating earlier this year after six years of extensive study in Egypt – but in his spare time he makes humorous videos, often speaking directly on his phone. He puts on vocals and does parodies from his bedroom, gathering whatever comes to mind when he wakes up in the morning before work. By all accounts, he is a humble and normal person who spends his time with his friends and family. But you would never know when he goes to the mall. Over there, he is a superstar, invaded by fans.
“I still remember the first time I was arrested in 2016,” Tarek told Arab News. “I was walking with my sister in the mall, and this girl came up to me. She said, ‘Hey! I love your videos!’ I was like, ‘What? Are you really watching my videos?’ She said, ‘Yes, I would love to take a picture.’ I was stunned. I said, ‘No, I want to take a picture with you!’ »
Since then, getting arrested by strangers has become a regular occurrence for Tarek, who has gained legions of fans across the region, amassing 4.3 million followers on TikTok, another 2.3 million on Instagram and more. half a million on YouTube. He’s even caught the eye of the world’s biggest movie studios, recently getting the green light to voice Aquaman in the Arabic-dubbed version (reanimated so the character’s mouth moves properly with spoken Arabic) of the blockbuster movie. Warner Bros. Summer Animation League of Super-Pets” – a role played by New Zealand comedian Jermaine Clement in the English version. It was a call he never saw coming.
“It’s not the most random thing that’s ever happened in my life, but it’s pretty random,” he says. “The call I got to get the role was crazy. I was sitting in college, minding my business, and someone just called me from this random number, didn’t I answered it, and they were like, ‘Hey, you want to be Aquaman?’ I was like, ‘Yeah, that sounds good!’ »
Dubbing has always been one of Tarek’s dreams. He’s amassed dozens of his own personas who poke fun at different Egyptian cultural archetypes.
“I’ve always been a fan of voiceover work. Growing up, I found it crazy how people could convey so much emotion just through their voice. The animation is there, of course, to express something, but the voice is the main thing. The voice is what you remember. I would grow up watching cartoons and movies dubbed in Arabic, so being able to step into that world is really full circle for me, and I love it as much as I thought,” Tarek says.
Like most comedians, growing up, Tarek’s first audience was his family, using his personality to cheer them up in their darkest times.
“I am the youngest, with two older sisters. I remember one day my sister came home crying from school. She was really devastated. My father tried to calm her down, but nothing helped. I said to myself: ‘I have to fix this’. So all I did was walk up to her and meet my eyes. I said, ‘Hey, look at me!’ She burst out laughing. I said to myself: “That’s what I’m going to do from now on”, says Tarek.
Tarek was born in Saudi Arabia and moved to Egypt as he entered his teens. There he used comedy to fit in with his new classmates, who were very different from those he had known who had initially bullied him. His plan worked and he even won over his teachers in the process.
“I used to write songs about my teachers, taking the melody of popular songs and rewriting the lyrics to fit each one. The students laughed, but the teachers laughed with us too. I stood on a podium in front of the class and they would sit behind me and love it. My parody songs have become a yearly ritual at our school,” he says.
Tarek first got into content creation in the early days of YouTube on the now-defunct short-video platform Vine. But he didn’t really expect to find an audience beyond his own home.
“Each of my videos would have five views,” he says. “Four of them would be me, and the other view would be my mother.”
But in 2016, Tarek did two covers that were similar in spirit to the ones he used to write about his teachers, taking popular songs from Adele and Hozier and singing new lyrics from the point. sight of one of his Egyptian characters. He thought nothing of it – until the number of views started to climb.
“I woke up one day and thought, ‘What’s going on? Why do I have 100,000 views?’ Then it was ‘Why do I have five million views? What’s going on?’ That’s when people really started responding to me,” says Tarek.
As his star rose, he refused to give up on his plans and fully embark on content creation, deciding to stay in school and make videos when he found the time. It’s a choice he doesn’t regret, even now that he’s finally practicing dentistry, but it’s been more exhausting to balance than he usually admits to people.
“I have a lot of friends who are in the social media business, and they are exhausted from everything they do. I have a lot of friends in the dentistry field, and they are all exhausted. None of them can’t really relate to what I’m going through. I’m tired of being a content creator and I’m tired of being a dentist every day. Who does that? Whenever I’m feeling low, everything hits me. But right now, I’m fine,” he said with a smile. “Right now, I’m on a roll.”
Tarek isn’t content with social media and dentistry either. The move into action with “DC League of Super-Pets” is one that Tarek takes seriously and plans to pursue fully.
“Right now, I’m trying. I start to follow theater workshops, which is a big step for me, because I would never have done that at the time. No one believes him, but naturally I’m a very shy person. I was the shy, naive guy sitting in the corner because I didn’t want to deal with people. Part of me doesn’t understand me right now, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to quit,” Tarek says.
“I have no idea where I will be in five years. I will just continue. If I’m offered an audition, I’ll go. I will take every opportunity that comes my way. You just gotta work, you know what I mean? I really believe it,” he said. “And I know it’s going to take me where I’m meant to be.”