By Rashidat Akashat
The table turned for Syrian Superstar Jihad Abdo, popularly called Jay Abdo when he had to pickup the remains of migrating, to living a lowly life, delivering pizzas from his break as a popular actor and public speaker.
Being a spoils of the Syrian conflict, Jay had to leave his fame and fortune behind to live an anonymous life on the tough streets of Los Angeles.
The 54-year-old actor could cast his thoughts back to few years back, when he visited any Arabian country and he was treated with such great honor till he spoke against the Assad’s regime back in Syria and his destiny got cloudy.
A Veteran Actor Of 43 Movies, With More Than 1,000 Tv Episodes.
Jihad Abdo, as he was called back in Syria, was a household name and a veteran Actor of 43 movies, with more than 1,000 TV episodes.
Abdo is best known for his role in “Bab al-Hara” (“The Neighborhood Gate”), one of the biggest soap operas in history, with up to 50 million viewers per episode.
The veteran was admired for both his acting skills and his willingness to speak his mind in public.
Talking to AFP, “I had a pretty beautiful life,” he said.
“People loved me, on screen and on talk shows when I spoke to people and expressed my culture and points of view.”
His direction to Hollywood was established with the escalating rise of the Arab Spring in Tunisia, Syria and Egypt in 2011.
His wife, a painter and human rights lawyer Fadia Afashe, was a senior official in Syria’s department of culture, and found herself having to flee Bashar al-Assad’s brutal regime after being caught meeting opposition activists during a trip to France.
She went to study public policy at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, intending to return to Syria after graduating.
Then the upsurge of conflicts came with the interview Jay granted the Los Angeled Times during a trip to Beirut, where he accused the Syrian Secret Service of corruption and torture, ending their dreams of returning to their homeland.
Strangers threatened him on his return to Syria, his car windows were smashed and he faced repeated demands to apologize to Assad on television.
Having seen friends arrested or disappear, some are still missing, he decided to leave Syria and all his investments in October 2011, to join his wife in Minneapolis.
The couple applied for asylum and drove for three days to Los Angeles with everything they owned so Abdo could get a job.
Why He Became Jay
“I met so many people who were shocked that my name was Jihad,” he said, explaining why he became Jay.
“They didn’t know it was Christian and I was named after a Christian lawyer in Damascus — a very good friend to my family.”
Even with a more palatable name, more than 100 failed auditions followed as the couple lived a devastating existence on just $3 a day.
It took more than a year to find work with a florist and delivering pizzas for Domino’s, earning up to $300 a week.