Five Facts About May Calamawy, The ‘Gladiator’’s Newest Star


Of the cohort of artists we seriously need to pay attention to stands Egyptian-Palestinian actress May Calamawy, who’s slowly, but steadily, stamping her name as one of the most exciting new faces in Hollywood. On the cusp of breaking into the mainstream spheres of the silver-screen industry for good, after years of powerful performances, the Bahrain-born 36-year-old is finally receiving the recognition she deserves. Appearing to be on virtually every other Hollywood director’s speed dial, the rising star has featured in a litany of hit films and TV series over the past years.

If you don’t recognize her from her leading role in the Golden-Globe-winning sitcom Ramy, Calamawy will probably look familiar from her recent appearance in the first Arab-directed Marvel series, namely Moonknight, which was spearheaded by Egyptian director Mohammed Diab. And if her name still doesn’t ring a bell, don’t worry as soon you won’t be able to escape her as it was recently revealed that the part-Levantine actress will be starring in Paramount’s upcoming sequel of Ridley Scott’s Gladiator, expected to hit screens on Nov. 22, 2024. 

With the first opus having been nominated over 10 ten times at the Oscars, and scoring five wins, this next chapter is expected to follow in the same footsteps, with Denzel Washington, Pedro Pascal, Joseph Quinn and Connie Nielsen joining Calamawy in the star-studded cast.

To celebrate the rapid ascension of one of our region’s most promising talents, below, five facts you need to know about the rising star.  

She was born in Bahrain 

Calamawy mostly grew up in Bahrain but she also lived in Doha, Qatar, and Houston, Texas before turning 12. She eventually returned and finished high school in Bahrain before moving to Boston, Massachusetts aged 17 to pursue higher education in industrial design.


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She starred in the first-ever horror movie shot in the UAE

In 2013, she landed her first breakthrough role in Tobe Hooper’s film Djinn, which was the first-ever horror movie to be shot in the United Arab Emirates. The movie follows the journey of a young Emirati couple who relocate to Ras al-Khaimah and settle into a high-rise apartment, only to discover a chilling truth about their seemingly ordinary neighbors. Calamawy took on the role of Aisha. 


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She was diagnosed with the same condition as Jada Pinkett-Smith

When she was 22, Calamawy was diagnosed with alopecia areata, an autoimmune disease which causes hair loss. In the second season of the award-winning Hulu show Ramy, her character, Dena Hassan, drew inspiration from her personal experience with alopecia, and was eventually included into her storyline ever since.

She’s also a successful voice actor 

If being a successful on-screen star wasn’t enough for Calamawy, she also happens to be a prominent voice actor, having notably been tapped by NBA 2K21 to lend her vocals to Ellie Malik, a character in the sports video game franchise.

She’s the first Egyptian superhero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe


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The Ramy actress plays Layla El-Faouly in Moon Knight, and in the show’s finale, she becomes Scarlet Scarab, the first Egyptian superhero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. 

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