French | Tunisian

Chira Zaich.jpg

I grew up between France and Tunisia. I was born in a suburb of Paris. My roots are very Tunisian. There is that family thing, it’s a very powerful culture in that sense. But my first language is French. I dream in French. When I get angry, I get angry in French. Weirdly, now having been in London for 8 years, I feel like a Londoner as well. Its half nature and half nurture I guess. On my Tunisian side there is that sense of community and being with each other. My aunts can sit around for six hours drinking tea, talking and making the world a better place. I don’t know what they are doing but they never seem to be bored of each other. It compliments my French side. The French, I dunno, there is this curiosity of exploring the world. It helps me to not be in the bubble of just being in one tribe. It makes it easier to connect with people when you have both.

When people look at me they just don’t know. When I was in Tunisia when I was younger they thought I was German. When you are in France and they find out that you are also from another culture they say, “oh you are not ‘French French’ then”. It’s confusing for other people to not be able to put you in one category. They want to recognise it. It’s not a bad thing necessarily. People want to connect with things that they know.

In terms of my acting sometimes it is a bit of an obstacle. If they ask for an Arabic person, they want to see that Arabic person before they open their mouths. Weirdly enough I was getting Polish and Jewish roles. Sometimes it gets annoying. You look on Imdb and you see French roles being played by English people. When you are in front of a camera they want you to tell a story already. With mixed race people, people get confused. They want to know where you are from. They make this story in their heads. Sometimes it is frustrating but sometimes you just think, well, i'll make it work one way or another.

It might sound daft but I feel like being mixed race, it is the future. The best that globalization can be is people mixing up with all those cultures and taking the best.