Brammer, Drew

'An extra way to pay my rent'

Some of Egypt's biggest television events happen during Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting, and performing in one of them is a graduate of North Medford High School and Southern Oregon University.

After earning degrees in French and Spanish from SOU, and two years after he witnessed the Arab Spring uprising in Egypt from outside his Cairo apartment window, Drew Brammer has found himself in about 10 roles — from extra to speaking parts — in Egyptian television shows and commercials.

"There's not a lot of foreigners (in Egypt), and they need foreigners to play roles," Brammer said in an interview via Skype. "There's even less French speakers."

Brammer, who stands 6 feet 5 and speaks fluent French, fit both profiles for his latest role as a French soldier at the Battle of the Nile, where France lost to Great Britain in 1798.

The television miniseries, titled "Napoleon wal Mahroussa" — roughly translated as "Napoleon and the Protected Egypt" — follows Napoleon's expedition through Egypt in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, and will be aired in Egypt, Syria, France and Qatar.

Brammer said proud moments in Arab history are commonly explored on television during Ramadan, which began July 19 and continues through Aug. 18 this year.

"Here in Egypt they have special Ramadan programming," he said. "A lot of the stores are closed."

Ramadan is a popular time for watching television in Egyptian culture, in part because people are tired from their midday fasts.

"Once the sun sets, people can eat (and drink)," Brammer said.

Much like American television season premieres begin after the summer blockbuster season, Brammer noted, the new Batman movie won't be shown in Egypt until after Ramadan, in part to prevent competition with television programming.

Brammer, who has been learning Arabic language and culture in Egypt, isn't quitting his day job tutoring students.

"This is just an extra way to pay my rent," he said.

Brammer started the work after being approached a few months ago by a friend who is an agent. He said it would be hard to make a career out of acting because it's unpredictable.

"If I have a speaking role, I get paid pretty well," he said. "I never really know."

Brammer said performing on Egyptian television requires patience and flexibility. He said he once memorized a page-long script in roughly translated English, only to learn the part was scrapped.

"I'd practiced this whole thing for two days," he said. "They were like, 'Yeah, we're just not going to do that part.' "

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