Osamah Sami and the power of storytelling
When Osamah Sami arrived in Australia at the age of thirteen, he felt like an outsider; a feeling not too dissimilar to his experiences of living and growing up in war-torn Iran.
Today, he is living a reality he could once only dream of, as one of Australia’s most-loved comedians, actors, directors, and writers.
Despite having an ever-expanding array of talents and projects up his sleeve, Osamah said his critically-acclaimed memoir Good Muslim Boy has to be one of his most significant works.
“It’s not so much the New South Wales Premier’s Literature Award that really gets me excited, but it was the moment when schools in Victoria decided to teach it as a year ten English text.,” he explains.
When I came to Australia, I could not speak a word of English, and two decades later, my book is an English textbook, and that feeling is incredible.
Born in Iran to Iraqi parents, much of Osamah’s childhood was littered with difficult and often unbearable moments.
But, it was his father, whom Osamah recalls was a “Master Storyteller”, who often attempted to carry them to a world outside of war.
Stories have that magic that allows you to be transported to a world other than your own.
“You’re suspended from your own reality and you move into some else’s shoes, but you soon realise that this person’s shoes, or this dual reality, is even closer than what you may have thought,” he said.
Much of Osamah’s work is autobiographical, and despite the personal significance, many fans have acknowledged how their experiences are similar to what they have read or seen in Osamah’s work, no matter where in the world they may live.
One of these reactions came from a professor in Perth who had read Good Muslim Boy and realised that his childhood in Western Australia drew many parallels to Osamah’s adolescence in Iran.
“This was because of all the shared experiences and the universality of the themes of adolescence and trying to discover adulthood while tackling all the shitty stuff that puberty brings,” Osamah explained.
I felt there was a need to tell the world that we’re all the same and we’re all on this journey together, whether we like it or not.
“Some people will try to fight that with hatred and bigotry, but like people say, love is going to conquer all anyway.”
Only just getting started, Osamah has multiple projects on the way, including a TV show, a few film projects, and most excitingly, a second book.
Titled Forty Letters to Finding Home, the book will feature forty letters Osamah has written to various significant people, objects, and beings as part of his quest to finding where he belongs.