Nora El Samahy. Photo by Kate Szrom.

How did you prepare to play this character?

Rehearsal makes everything better, especially with a sharp director like Evren and the amazing team at Portland Center Stage at The Armory. I sank into the text and took it page by page, let the language live in my daily consciousness. The script comes everywhere with me, as if I believe in script osmosis.

Are there performances or specific moments onstage that stand out in your memory? Could you tell us what made these performances particularly special for you?

Performing in Oh My Sweet Land was one of the highlights of my acting career. The play was done in kitchens all over the Bay Area. Sometimes the audience was only 25 people and at other times more than 80. I got to cook onstage, which was a challenge and really fun. Luckily no one had to consume what I made. More than anything, the material was such a gift to share.

What, for you, is the most fulfilling aspect of your life as an actor?

Embodying people who we don’t often see on the American stage.

What are your fondest theater memories?

Collaborating on new work with friends. I love the process of talking about an idea, language, and human follies.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given about anything?

My father has always told me: don’t do anything you don’t want to do. As you can imagine, that didn’t always turn out in his favor.

Tell us something unexpected about yourself.

The truth is I’m a homebody that prefers an early night and early rise.

Who or what inspires you?

Beautiful language, travel, friends, children, humor, sculpture, and dance.

When and why did you start acting?

When I was 7 years old, a teacher asked me to be in a play, and I was hooked.

What do you find to be the most challenging part of being an actor?

Missing out on important events in the lives of people you love due to performances.