Childhood & Early Life
Meryem was born Meryem Sarah Uzerli, on August 12, 1983, in Kassel, Germany, to a Turkish father, Hüseyin, and a German mother, Ursula. She grew up in Istanbul and Berlin. She was raised with her two older brothers and one older sister, Canan, who later became a jazz musician. Meryem has two older stepbrothers, Dany and Christopher, from her mother's first relationship.
Meryem attended the 'Freie Waldorf School' in Kassel, which is a chain of kindergartens in Germany that provides arts-based education. There, Meryem began developing an interest in acting. She eventually studied acting and even performed in several stage productions.
Meryem was just 17 when she joined Hamburg's ‘Schauspiel Studio Frese,' which made her the youngest student of the acting institute. For the next 3 years, she studied acting and theater.
Following her graduation, Meryem did a handful of minor gigs in German productions, until one day, she was called for a project in Turkey. In 2010, Meryem moved to Istanbul, where she began her full-fledged career as an actor.
Continue Reading Below
You May Like
While in Germany, Meryem appeared in many shorts. She appeared as ‘Madeline’ in ‘Menage A Trois' (2008), as ‘Anna’ in ‘The Line' (2009), as ‘Mara’ in ‘Lover's Guide' (2010), and as a stewardess in 'Journey of No Return,' for which she received a special jury prize at the 47th ‘International Antalya Golden Orange Film Festival.' She had the main role of ‘Britta’ in the German TV series 'Inga Lindström' and made single-episode appearances in two 'ZDF' series, 'Notruf Hafenkante' and 'Ein Fall für zwei.'
Meryem got a breakthrough role in the Turkish historical fiction drama 'Muhteşem Yüzyıl' ('The Magnificent Century'). She was cast as the real-life character Hürrem Sultan, the chief consort and legal wife of the Ottoman Sultan Süleyman “the Magnificent.''
The role of Hurrem Sultan made Meryem a top-notch actor in the Turkish industry. She even won several awards for the performance, including, the 'Tüketici Academy Award,' the 'Silver Horse Award,' the 'TV Stars Award,' and many more. She also received an award at the ‘Beirut International Film Festival,’ for her performance in ‘Eskiya Dünyaya Hükümdar Olmaz.’
Unfortunately, in 2013, Meryem had to quit the series due to burnout. She moved to Berlin for treatment. She was replaced by Vahide Perçin from episode 103. Meryem resumed working at the end of 2014, after a year-long career break. She signed a contract with the Turkish production company 'O3,' owned by one of the biggest Arab TV centers, the 'MBC Group.'
Meryem’s comeback was marked by a 12-page fashion spread dedicated to her, which was published in the 'Louis Vuitton' journal and the Turkish edition of 'Elle' magazine. The photo shoot was done majorly at several German landmarks, such as the Berliner Dom and Siegessäule.
Meryem was supposed to announce her new project and the signing of the contract through a big press conference in Dubai. However, she went to Istanbul, where she addressed a small group of journalists and make the announcement.
In December 2014, 'Star TV' introduced Meryem as one of the network’s stars in the following year, through a video. The network introduced her again in October 2015, for the following year.
In March 2015, Meryem was signed for a leading role in an upcoming TV series, which was later announced as 'Gecenin Kraliçesi.' She played the character ‘Selin’ in the series. It premiered on 'Star TV' in January 2016.
That year, Meryem was seen in the supporting role of ‘Suzi’ in the series 'Eşkiya Dünyaya Hükümdar Olmaz.' She had lead roles in her last three Turkish films to date. Meryem played ‘Marija’ in 'Annemin Yarası' ('My Mother's Wound', 2016), ‘Göze’ in the crime-action film 'Cingöz Recai' (2017), and ‘Sarah’ in the thriller–drama 'Öteki Taraf.'
Continue Reading Below
Meryem is collaborating with experts from the cosmetic industry to launch her exclusive eye cosmetic range, 'MERYEM.’ She is looking for international distribution partners, especially for the North African market.
Meryem has done a few modeling assignments, too. She has been featured in many fashion magazines, such as 'Elle,' 'Marie Claire,' and 'InStyle.' She has been the face of several Turkish companies, such as 'Atasay' jewelry, 'FLO' shoes, 'Elidor' hair care. Meryem had done ad campaigns for 'Sunsilk,' too.
In 2012, she was named the 'Woman of the Year' by 'GQ Turkey.'
When Meryem moved from Germany to Turkey, some Muslim fundamentalist groups criticized her role in 'The Magnificent Century.' They claimed it was full of nudity. The fundamentalists were against Western pop culture, and they labeled her as an unintentional poster girl of this culture.
In 2012, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan tried to ban the show and claimed that it was blasphemous and that it portrayed Suleiman negatively.
Family & Personal Life
Meryem’s father, Hüseyin Bey, was born in Fatih, Istanbul, and died in Germany, soon after he finished his military service. Her mother was an actor. Meryem’s great-grandmother was from Croatia. Meryem’s native language is German, but she can also speak Turkish and English fluently.
Meryem initially dated Can Ateş. They broke up after she left Turkey. She cited his infidelity as the reason for the split. Meryem and Can have a daughter, Lara Jemine, who was born on February 10, 2014.
In 2018, Meryem was suddenly unrecognizable due to several failed cosmetic surgeries done on her face. She was reported to have fillers in her lips, eyes, and cheeks. The horrible transition led to a massive backlash from her followers.
A well-known producer who had previously worked with Meryem stated, "You're sorry, turn yourself into a normal state." She finally decided to remove all the fillers and get back to her natural state. She then apparently moved to Istanbul to meet a doctor for the purpose.
Toward the end of 2014, Meryem was invited to an event in the Middle East, hosted by an uber-rich family. They even offered her €500,000 to attend a special dinner. Meryem initially turned down the offer, saying she did not attend such paid events unless they were for charitable causes. Meryem even put a condition that she would accept the invitation if the family could donate to three Turkish charitable associations.
She finally attended the dinner in December 2014, after the host family agreed to her condition.