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An Aspiring Eritrean Artist Heading to A Continental Award

By Sabrina Solomon

Our guest today is Seare Futsum, an actor who has recently been nominated for the Sotigui Awards in three categories: best actor of East Africa, golden award for best actor of Africa, and the people’s choice for African best actor for his role in ‘Seare’, a short film based on a true story of the 1998 – 2000 war between Eritrea and Ethiopia.

 

Thank you so much for your time, Seare. Please introduce yourself.

Thank you for having me. My name is Seare Futsum, born and raised in Asmara. I’m 28 years of age, was born in February 1994. I went to high school in Keih-Bahri Secondary School and then went to college in Mai-Nefhi. I have been working on art since I was a young kid, but the time that I started doing it professionally was 2012. That was when I started taking music seriously. I started with music but then shifted to acting in 2015.

You started as a singer but ended up being an incredible actor. What happened?

The acting career wasn’t really something that I wanted to pursue at the beginning. I love music, and it’s almost impossible for me to go for even a single day without it. I wanted to do music ever since I was a kid and I used to rap for my friends. We call it the “Zemenawi Masse”. I used to perform for my friends and free style all the time when we were in high school. They always motivated me to do more and they always said that one day I’d make it big and that I should just follow my dreams as a rapper.

And it was good and that was always on my mind. I then went to Sawa as a member of the 26th round of the national service, and when I got back here, I made a friend and we started going to the studio, started recording and making more songs. But we weren’t conscious about so many things back then because we were young, so all we talked about was things that weren’t given much credit.

A year later, in 2014, I wanted to promote my music. We had been working with Merhawi Meles since 2013, and I asked him if I could be in a movie to help me promote my music. He introduced me to Zeriesenay Andbebrhan, who’s a very great writer and director. I got a call from director Zeriesenay after about two months saying he found a spot for me and that I’d be perfect for it. So, I got a part in this first YouTube series movie called ‘Fqri Lomi’kine’ and he put me in two episodes. That meant the world to me. I met with some great actors and actresses whom I learned a lot from. I pretty much learned something about the movie industry, like how much it takes to shoot and edit a movie, how long it takes to study a script, how long it takes to rehearse and so much more. People said they loved watching the series and encouraged me to do more. But I still wasn’t into acting. I was still focused on my music because I had a whole crew called “Hwnet Records. We opened up a studio and we were doing great and doing what we were meant to do. But then after about a year, Nahom Abraha offered me a part in a movie.

I thought to myself, “Well, I have now promoted my music, so why not I do another movie?” Nahom said that I’d love it and I said, “Okay, let me try.” That movie was made and it got nominated for a lot of awards in places such as Kenya and France. It was very motivating to see it go that far, and it was then that I began to see myself as an actor. I met Debesay Weldu afterwards and did ‘Machelo,’ the longest television series to have been aired on Eri- TV. And that has brought up a lot of opportunities. I have taken part in more than 23 movies so far. This is pretty much my acting journey so far.

We have seen you shine in different movies, and you have been nominated for the Sotigui awards for your role in one movie. Tell us about that movie.

That movie is ‘Seare.’ It’s about the war between Eritrea and Ethiopia in 1998 to 2000. It’s based on a true story of an Eritrean guy who came from America and died at the war fighting for his country, Eritrea. We liked the script and the story so much that we wanted to do it by using our own names.

I played the protagonist using my real name, Seare. We took days to do the outdoors and field shots in Adi-Keih, Belewkelew, Sen’afe, and Hawaxu with the 17th military division. We sent the movie to Sotigui Award after we posted it on YouTube and re-edited it based on people’s feedbacks. Samson Ghebrezgabher helped us a lot in presenting our movie to the Sotigui Award. He’s very much interested in Eritrean movies and has been trying to do a lot of big things for Eritrean artists. He’s the same person who took the TV series ‘Machelo’ to that award. Thousands of movies from the whole world reach Sotigui Awards, and they pick only a few. So it’s a big deal for us to be nominated for such awards.

Tell us more about your character in the movie ‘Seare’

My character was this person who left for America along with his dad when he was a kid, and his mom passed away giving birth to him. He studied nursing in college and was pretty much into photography as well.

He came back to Eritrea with his dad to go to some historic sites and take photos of such places. His dad was a medical doctor in America and wanted to come back to Eritrea and help his people and share his knowledge. When they got here, Seare went to the historic site to take photos, but, unfortunately, the city near the place that he was at started to get bombed. He took a call to go to the front lines and fight for his country. He then met new people, made new friends and went through the experiences of the war there. He basically went through all the terrible situations that the war put you in and died trying to save his friend. It’s a real tragedy and a sad story.

How does it feel to be nominated for the awards, and what does this nomination mean to us as a nation?

The Sotigui Award is the biggest deal in West Africa and it’s one of those ranked top in art. So, it means a lot to me, our country and our people. Through this, we get a chance to meet more producers, writers, directors and artists from the entire continent. We can uplift cultures through connections with people in Africa because we all go through the same things as a continent. We are going through very challenging times and having bad times in Africa. There’re conflicts between clans and countries over things we aren’t supposed to go to war. The conflicts are mostly initiated by external interest groups, and that’s the message we’re trying to put through the movie. It means a lot to get connected through arts, and we, artists, can find a common ground and work together. We can grow economically, politically, culturally and more. We just need those connections. It’s a big chance for us artists to come together as representatives of our countries and grow as a continent.

 

Any message …

Yes, the first thing I want to say is that you can find the movie on Salina Entertainment on YouTube. But what the people should also do is vote. We need votes for the movies to win the third category, which is the people’s choice for African Best Actor. If the people help us, we can really get to the next level through our arts. So, please vote for us and let’s win this thing together.

I want to take our country to the next level; that’s what success truly is to me. Let’s present all of the unique gifts and powers of this beautiful country to the world and get appreciations and respect that we need. We are trying to reach a global level and reach a global market.

And I would really love to appreciate all the people who have helped me get here and all of my family and friends who have been very supportive throughout the years.

Thank you!

Thank you so much for your time. We wish you all the best.

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