Amatus Sami-Karim Biography

Amatus Sami-Karim is an American musician, composer and actress. Check out this biography to know about her birthday, childhood, family life, achievements and fun facts about her.

Quick Facts

Nationality: American

Famous: Actresses Composers

Born in: Chicago

Famous as: Musician, Composer, Actress

Height: 5'6" (168 cm), 5'6" Females


Spouse/Ex-: Mahershala Ali

City: Chicago, Illinois

U.S. State: Illinois

More Facts

education: Tisch School of Arts, Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts

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Amatus Sami-Karim is an American musician, composer, actress and performative conceptual artist who is better known as the wife of Academy Award winning Hollywood actor, Mahershala Ali. Amatus works in the mediums of music, film and theatre and is primarily focused on themes related to identity, history and popular culture. Her debut EP, 'Broken Compass', released in March 2014, was featured in a number of blogs on trend-setting music news outlets like 'Pigeons and Planes', 'Afro Punk', 'Obscure Sound', 'Hollywood Playlist', 'OkayPlayer', and 'The Source'. She has contributed music to documentary films, such as 'New Muslim Cool' in 2009, and more recently 'Daisy and Max' in 2015. She has worked with musicians like Meshell Ndegeocello, Roy Hargrove and Jneiro Jarel, and has scored projects for PBS, Georgia Shakespeare Festival, 651 Arts, POV, Ford Foundation, and Rooftop Films. Most recently, she was nominated for the 2018 'Drama Desk Awards' in the category 'Outstanding Music in a Play' for the Atlantic Theater Company production of 'The Homecoming Queen', but lost to Imogen Heap. Amatus, who has acting credits in short films like 'Girl's Time' and 'Jasmine', is currently working on a number of short films.

Rise to Stardom
  • Amatus Sami-Karim, who believes that American music "has not been able to seep into people’s experience as much as it’s supposed to", began her career making 'edgy' music combining different genres such as hip-hop, electronic, jazz and soul. During her early career, the documentary 'New Muslim Cool', released in 2009, featured her music on its soundtrack. In 2012, she achieved a breakthrough after she was asked to compose the soundtrack of Dominique Morrisseau’s stage play ‘Sunset Baby’, which went on to win 'The Obie Awards' (Off-Broadway Theater Awards) for its Labyrinth Theatre Company production in 2014. In March 2014, she released her debut EP, 'Broken Compass', which consists of five tracks that depicted her own experiences of living in Chicago and New York. Soon after, she was roped in to compose the music of the feature-length film 'Daisy and Max', which was a documentary for Al-Jazeera America that aired in December 2015. She has already established herself as an exceptional musician in the entertainment industry. Nevertheless, she first gained widespread public attention after she accompanied her husband to the red carpets of various award events in 2017. She was pregnant at the time and welcomed a daughter four days before he won an Oscar for his supporting role in 'Moonlight'.
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Personal Life
  • Amatus Sami-Karim was born in an Islamic family on the Southside of Chicago. Her father was a jazz musician, as well as an Imam. She grew up at her father's mosque in Chicago, which was across the street from the Cabrini Green Projects, a public housing project. She was interested in different forms of arts since she was a child, and later studied at the Tisch School of Arts in New York. After completing her graduation, she was accepted into the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London, England, following which she had to stay in London for a year to study acting.
  • During her early life, within a period of four years, she had lost a number of close family members and friends, including her brother, cousin and her roommate, to separate gun violence incidents. While these incidents were enough to shatter her, she showed resilience and channeled her pain into her work, giving voice to the complex experiences she had been through and making a 'quilt' out of that.
Relationship with Mahershala Ali
  • Amatus Sami-Karim first met actor Mahershala Ali, then known by his birth name Mahershalalhashbaz Gilmore, when both of them were studying at the Tisch School of Arts in New York City. They were introduced to each other by mutual friend Aliya Latif, following which they became friends and eventually began dating. The couple has been together for a long time, but decided to get married recently in 2013. She gave birth to their only daughter, Bari Najma Ali, on February 24, 2017.
  • In January 2017, following his 'Screen Actors Guild' award speech advocating love and acceptance, 'People' magazine reported that Mahershala Ali had converted to Islam nearly two decades ago after visiting a mosque with Amatus and her mother. According to him, even weeks after visiting the mosque, the prayer resonated within his body and compelled him to go back and convert. The child of an ordained Christian minister, he changed his surname and joined the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. He doesn't shy away from showing his love for Amatus and often acknowledges her support as a strong and independent woman. He also credits her for being spiritually grounded.
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