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You might not recognise Hazem Shammas.
The actor is best known for his work on the critically acclaimed Safe Harbour, a powerful thriller on SBS, a role which on Sunday night won him the Logie Award for Most Outstanding Supporting Actor.
While his name might not be as recognisable as many others illuminated on television screens across the country, what Shammas brought to the awards ceremony was like a refreshing splash of water to the face.
In the midst of glitz and glamour and slightly cringe-worthy skits, Shammas used his acceptance speech to speak candidly about his life as a dad.
“This is overwhelming. I’m sorry I’ve got to confess I’m slightly distracted this evening,” Shammas began.
“I want to take a quick moment to just send a thank you to my beautiful family. We’ve just welcomed a brand new baby boy into the world. He’s about nine weeks premature and while my heart is there, I wanted to send my thank yous to the amazing nurses at the NICU ward at the royal women’s hospital in Randwick. You guys are the real heroes, thank you.”
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After sending out his love and support to his “soulmate”, Susannah, Shammas also spoke about what Safe Harbour, which looked at the experience of asylum seekers in heartbreaking detail, meant to him as a Palestinian-born Australian with parents who once travelled to Australia by boat.
“[It’s] the fragility and the preciousness of life that makes me realise now how amazing something like ‘Safe Harbour’ is,” Shammas said.
“Life is too fleeting to deal with xenophobia and the racism and the hatred we really don’t want to talk about. It’s because of SBS and Matchbox and their courage to create this drama and these characters is why I’m here and why I’m so proud to be a part of this.”
Finally, Shammas dedicated his award to his father, telling the audience, “it’s the anniversary of his passing this weekend and when he courageously threw everything into the winds to bring us young family to these shores to pursue his Australian dream.
“I don’t think he ever thought this would be part of our future, so you know this is for you dad. Thank you.”
It was one of the shortest speeches of the night, and yet, the best. The perfect antidote to what can be a slightly problematic affair.