Buzznet Interview The Cast of MTV Skins: Ron Mustafaa AKA Abbud
You’ve probably seen the billboards, the commercials, and the bus benches. The UK’s hit teen soap opera Skins is on Monday nights at 10 on MTV, with an American cast, a few new characters, and the good old gritty teen drama we know and love from the original series. Much like it did overseas, the series will tackle those darker topics, like dysfunctional families, mental illness, sexual identity, sex, substance abuse, and death.
And while the sex and language have been toned down quite a bit for 10pm basic cable, this isn’t Gossip Girl, kids. These are regular kids: kids from working class families, kids you can relate to more than the Blairs Waldorfs and Chuck Basses of the world – kids with real teen problems. Sure, the storylines can be tough to stomach at times, but so can being a teenager.
Buzznet got the chance to sit down with Ron Mustafaa who plays Abbud on Skins for a quick interview:
BUZZNET: Your character Abbud is a hard-partying Muslim kid with a religious family. How do you go about marrying the two sides of your character when you’re playing that sort of divided person?
RON MUSTAFAA: When I’m playing Abbud, I think that whenever he’s out with his friends and out partying he really wants to forget everything from his religious side and his conservative parents side. So he lets go of that and goes all out. So if you see Abbud on screen you’ll see how hyper he gets even over the most little things. Like a simple bet with Tea or just them watching Pump ‘n Snatch in episode 3, in Chris’ episode. So he just likes to totally let go of everything that’s back at home and just be in the moment, and I think that’s what kind of creates his excitement… the fact that “Oh my God, no one’s watching over me. I can do whatever I want!”
BN: Would you say you are similar to this character or is there one aside from Abbud that you are most similar to in real life?
RM: Well I don’t think I’m really similar to Abbud. Abbud is really hyper and I’m kind of really laid back. But similarity wise, Abbud, at times, can be quite gullible and I think I’m quite gullible at times. I’ll believe a lot of things. He’s also very much a hopeless romantic and sometimes I tend to become a hopeless romantic, where I’m always looking for someone special. Similarity wise, that’s where we can draw the line. He’s also confused and I think as a young adult, I’m also kind of confused of where I want to go with my life, what kind of person I’m going to become when I grow up and I think that’s kind of the same with all the characters in the show. That’s the essence of Skins: growing up.
BN: Would you say there is a character least like you, that’s furthest removed from your actual personality?
RM: I would probably say Tony. I don’t think I’m really like Tony, because Tony’s super confident and arrogant and can be a prick sometimes to his friends. So I guess that’s the difference. I’m furthest removed from Tony in a way. James plays it wonderfully. He’s not at all like Tony. But it’s amazing how he can pull it off.
BN: It’s so impressive that you’re studying political science at the University of Toronto and that you haven’t put that on hold to be on a major television show. How has being on the show changed your college experience, as you used to be anonymous college student A and now you’re a TV star?
RM: Well I wouldn’t say that I’m a TV star but it has changed a bit. All my friends are still the same, they still joke around with me; they’re not holding back with their jokes. Campus life has been relatively pretty quite but I’ll get second looks when I’m walking down the campus or like registering for a course. My professors have been great, they’ve been like “Yeah if you need time to read over your script and do the show properly, we’ll give you extensions.” So that way it’s been amazing. I wouldn’t say that it’s changed greatly just because I don’t want it to change greatly. I just want to still be the grounded person that I was before. Skins has actually made me almost more grounded and more humble to have this experience. But nothing has changed drastically because everyone treats me the same, which is great. I’ve gotten a free cup of coffee from Second Cup once, which was pretty nice! Other than that, that’s pretty much it.
BN: Is it difficult balancing your course load and the show? How do you prioritize that?
RM: The great thing about Skins was that during the filming of the episodes, at break time we had a study room where we would go into and finish all our homework and finish our assignments. We would have like two, three hours. They always gave us time. They always emphasized how important education was, which was amazing and I don’t know if many shows do that.
BN: I can tell you’ve acted in the past, prior to being on Skins, but you’re also studying political science which is a completely divergent path. Is this a contingency plan or something you’re also very interested in perhaps pursuing a career related to political science?
RM: Honestly, I love acting. There’s this amazing rush that you get when you’re either on stage or on film, that’s almost unexplainable and kind of supernatural. I know it sounds really weird but I really love acting. I’m studying political science, not as a fallback plan cause I don’t believe in fallback plans. I think you should go into something that you love whole-heartedly. I’m studying political science because I’m really interested in knowing how the world works, how our government works, the wrongs and the rights that should be done. I also wanted to go to law school afterwards to hopefully bring about some social change in the world through working with NGOs or the Human Rights Commission. So I guess I’ve always wanted to do both things, and through acting you can do that, you can hopefully, knock on wood, do something great. So it’s always been about learning and educating myself about my surroundings. I think that’s more important than having a career plan with my education.
BN: Before you mentioned that before you can be a bit of a hopeless romantic. Did you do anything special for Valentines Day?
RM: That’s the thing. I was alone on Valentines Day. But it was fine. I had a box of chocolates and I watched… I’m kidding. Well, I was alone though. I just chilled out at home, watched Skins at 10 o’clock! Other than that, no special plans for Valentine’s Day. Maybe next year!
BN: Is there a specific actor whose career you really admire and would like to emulate?
RM: Young actor wise, I like whatJesse Eisenberg and Shia Labeouf have done. Some people that I really want to emulate are Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller and even Leonardo DeCaprio, because they’ve always stuck to what they love, whether it’s comedy or drama, but they really went into it whole-heartedly and they believed in the scripts. It was more about acting for them than the whole celebrity lifestyle, which I think is really important. I really want to emulate that and the amount of passion they bring on screen is amazing. Hopefully I can slowly build myself up to that.
BN: What about music? Are there any bands these days that you’re super into or listen to all the time?
RM: The Red Hot Chili Peppers are my all time favorite band just because of the amazing music they make and I can really connect with it. Nowadays, Arcade Fire, they cleaned up the Grammys, which is amazing, really nice to see. I also like Lupe Fiasco, he’s coming out with a new album. And Kanye West, obviously. He’s also one of my favorites.
BN: What was the last concert you went to?
RM: The last concert I went to was Coldplay at the Roger Center. I was so amazed. It was funny because it was me and my guy friend. So it was just like two dudes watching Coldplay. We were thinking “Oh we should take a girl” and then we couldn’t find anyone! We were like “Okay bro, let’s just go watch Coldplay.” And it was totally fine. I was so into it. There were balloons. They go nuts over their concerts, like releasing yellow balloons for the song “Yellow”. I wanted to catch one and give it to my friend, but he was like “Don’t do that, it’s too much.” But it was fun, it was a lot of fun. That was Coldplay. And they did a little tribute to Michael Jackson on the acoustic guitar, which was really nice. It was great. They throw a really good concert.
BN: Through your MTV brotherhood, have you been able to meet the Situation or Snooki or Pauly D?
RM: Yeah, we have! They’re such nice people! They’re so genuine and down to Earth. What you see on screen is kind of what you get, when you see them. As in, they’re genuine and not trying to portray someone else on film. I love all of them. I love DJ Pauly D’s music stuff that he’s getting into. Vinny’s really funny. He’s really excited about Skins. Deena and us all hang out, and she’s following us on Twitter which is so nice! Yeah, they’re really nice and I’m happy that we got to meet them.
BN: Thank you! Good luck with the show!
RM: Thank you so much! Keep watching. Take care.