Zeeko Zaki finally bags his big break in TV

Crime dramas are well-received shows. Some are set in precincts, like Blue Bloods, NYPD and the Law & Order franchise. Others follow the crime-fighting operations of security organisations like the FBI.

The fictional worlds of the latter have been wonderfully manifested in Quantico, Criminal Minds, The Blacklist, Blindspot and Bones.

Now FBI joins the bandwagon. That Dick Wolf is credited as one of the executive producers immediately installs confidence.

After all, his Midas touch has earned him several accolades, and in 2013 Wolf was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame.

FBI has Zeeko Zaki cast opposite Missy Peregrym (Rookie Blue fame).

It’s a big deal for Zaki, a 29-year-old Egyptian-American actor/model, as it’s his first big break in TV.

To date, he has bagged roles and supporting roles in shows like Homeland, Under the Dome, 24: Legacy and NCIS: Los Angeles.

In the show he is cast as Omar Adom Zidan, a former army intel officer turned FBI agent. He says: “What I love about my character is how I could be him.

“How it isn’t necessarily like a strict military background or a strict intelligence background – he is kind of a normal person and that’s kind of what’s great about the FBI, they’re trying to recruit normal people because they need normal people to fit into normal societies to be able to help law enforcement.”

As for the relationship dynamics between Peregrym, who plays Maggie Bell, he said: “My partner has been in the FBI two years longer than me.

“We’ve just started working together. And she is more experienced, she is a little older than me. I’m a little greener to the Bureau, and taking this sort of physical protectiveness, like a younger brother almost to her. Dick (Wolf) almost explained it in a way of like a King Kong to Jane.”

Zaki brings an admirable intensity to his role. He is zealous and not afraid to push the envelope when the situation merits it, not that it sits well with his superior.

“My character comes from an undercover sort of background where I make my own rules, I make my own calls.

“And then getting into this structure with authority and with bosses and with all these different levels, my character is going to have to sort of check himself on those things, and kind of fall into the appropriate way of doing things, because in the FBI there are so many checks and balances.”

Although the character was written as a Latino, Zaki was grateful when the writers eventually shifted perspective by looking at him to play a Muslim/Arab.

Still counting his blessings on bagging the role, he adds, “The scope of the project has surprised me. I think my imagination isn’t as big as the imagination of the director and Dick Wolf, and how they take the words off the script really surprised me.

“Because we would go on set and what I would think would be an explosion was devastating versus, you know, just whatever I was playing in my mind.

“And every day, from what was going on in the story to the talents of our director of photography and how stuff was lit, was way beyond my expectations.

“So, I guess, you know, I should have known that it was going to be levels way above anything I could have expected.

“But that is what was surprising – it is definitely the scope of the project.”

Hopefully, this series will be the first of many other stellar opportunities for Zaki in Hollywood.

FBI airs on M-Net (DStv channel 101) on Tuesdays at 9pm.


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