Sammy Durrani - Not Settling for Anything Less

  • 14 Oct - 20 Oct, 2017
  • Mohammad Kamran Jawaid
  • Interview

Saima K. Durrani
– or as people in the American film industry call her, Sammy – is a professional actress, working in America. She holds a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice/Criminal Psychology from Boston University, and is mostly occupied with humanitarian work.

When we met for the interview, (which as it happens, is a few days before she leaves to shoot a movie), I find her quite cheery, struggling with Urdu in an American accent.

“I was a hyper child with flaming red hair, and a total tomboy. My father till this day calls me his son,” she starts, as we talk about what led her to acting.

“Even though I have a Bachelor's in English Literature and Languages and a Master's in Criminal Justice/Criminal Psychology, I have always been an artistic and creative person. My mother decided to put me in sports and in the theatre so I would direct my energy in plays instead. I have been a part of countless Shakespeare plays and eventually started doing commercials in New York, and Hollywood.

“When acting, I connect with my inner-child that is still alive inside of me,” she continues, “I am a combination of a child-like nature and a wise old soul.”

She tells me that she loves to play “dark, colourful, characters” (she is set to play Lilith in one upcoming production, I find out from IMDB).

“I have done over 30 commercials, and TV/film not just in Hollywood but also in Beirut, Lebanon, where I used to live, and in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. I speak several languages fluently and have lived all over the world. I never made acting a career. It has always been just a hobby,” Sammy tells me.

She, however, is taking that hobby quite seriously now. “As Rumi says, ‘You were born with wings, why prefer to crawl through life?’, I am of the mindset that one should go after every goal and dream and not settle for anything less. That is how you win your accomplishments,” she shares.

Sammy has studied acting from the best in the industry – William Esper, Terry Knickerbocker, Caroline Thomas and at Ivana Chubbuck – the acting coach of Brad Pitt and Halle Berry.

I have been getting offers from Bollywood for years, as I know many of the industry people, however I was never in this field for money or fame. Money comes and goes and fame is fleeting. I actually feel acting is playtime which can be healing for the soul but when you leave the set you must return to your original character, that is yourself.

“I firmly believe if something is written for you, nothing and nobody can take it away from you, and if something is not meant for you, only better will come. That is the confidence one must have to ensure a positive mindset when working in this field full of rejection,” she finishes.

Right now, Sammy is setting up a production company which will do joint Hollywood and Pakistani productions. “This is a field I know very well and feel I can be of benefit to. I am a no-nonsense kind of person,” she says.

Sammy belongs to a Pathan family, originally from Kandahar, which left with Shah Shuja to British India. Her mother’s family settled in Lucknow and Rampur, while her father’s side is in Ambala, Punjab (both British Army Cantonment areas).

Her father was born in Lahore, but raised in Khairpur, Sindh, and her mother is from PECHS Society, Karachi. Her parents had shifted to America to study, with her father going to Long Island University and her mother to Tufts University.

As it turns out, she has a lot to talk about. Especially the last 10 years of humanitarian and charity work.

“Due to my constant humanitarian work, I have not been able to settle down or even meet people. I am used to being alone,” she reveals.

“However,” she adds, “if I meet someone who is honourable and protective, I will leave everything for him and happily settle down. I just haven't met this person yet,” she signs off.