• Hisham Tawfiq is a 49-year-old American television and film actor from New York City, USA.
• He is best known for his role of Dembe Zuma in “The Blacklist”, and formerly served in the US Marine Corps and NYFD.
• He was initially hesitant to pursue acting, but eventually overcame the odds to become one of the most sought-after names in Hollywood.
• He is married with an 18-year-old son, and is a major spokesman for racial equality.
• He has an estimated net worth of $200,000, and is popular on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

Known for movies

Short Info

SpouseRuth Tawfiq

Who is Hisham Tawfiq?

Born in New York City, USA, on 17 May 1970, under the earth sign of Taurus, Hisham Tawfiq is an American television and film actor., probably best known for his role of Dembe Zuma in “The Blacklist”, a former South Sudanian slave who managed to become the personal bodyguard of one Raymond “Red” Reddington (James Spader). Unbeknownst to most, Hisham is also a former marine, having served with the US Marine Corps from 1990 to 1995, during which he took part in Operation Desert Storm.

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His story is most inspiring, as he gave acting an actual chance only after his three dream professions failed him. In a short period of time, he overcame the odds, and is currently one of the most sought-after names in Hollywood.

Early Life and Education: Growing Up in The Big Apple

Hisham was raised by his parents in one of the poorer neighborhoods in the city. There is no information available about his mother and father, despite the fact that he’s been a regular in one of television’s hottest shows. The only thing we know is that his father was a prominent religious leader, and that he taught him the values of Islam. Tawfiq always politely declines to talk about anything other than his professional endeavors.

However, we do know that he developed a love for the arts when he was assigned to read “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou. As a teenager, he became interested in both music and theater. Concerning his education, it is known that he matriculated from an unspecified local high school in 1988, then probably didn’t enroll at a college as he joined the Marines in 1990, but meantime further his theatrical skills with the Negro Ensemble Company, a legendary troupe known for actors such as Ossie Davis and Denzel Washington. He also had the chance to work with legendary professor of theatre, Susan Batson. Despite being a passionate actor, Tawfiq had a completely different career path in mind.

Hisham Tawfiq

Life Before Acting

Initially, Hisham thought that acting wouldn’t provide him with a stable influx of revenue, so  joined the US Marine Corpst to make sure he would be able to earn a living wage. Since he’d been pretty athletic all his life, the grueling entrance tests weren’t such a problem for him. He was subsequently deployed overseas during Operation Desert Storm, an experience which shaped the rest of his life, as he still thinks about the horrors he saw during his time in the Middle East.

He discharged in 1995, ready to start a new life. The best he could find at the time was the position of corrections officer at the infamous Sing Sing Correctional Facility, located in upstate New York. At this time, Hisham was well aware that he was finally able to practice his acting again. In 1996, he served as a firefighter for the New York City Fire Department (NYFD). Being in an actual war, working with the toughest inmates and battling fires made acting seem like a small, easy thing. Tawfiq used his previous jobs as both inspiration and experience before becoming a proper star.


Acting Beginnings: “Snitch in New York”, “Notorious”, “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit”, “Kings” and More

Hisham finally made his acting debut in 2002, aged 32,. He took on a cameo role in “Snitch in York”, a crime drama centered around a prison break orchestrated by six hardened criminals. Even though it wasn’t a significant role per se, it was an important milestone for the aspiring actor who had taken a 14-year break from performing. In the following years, he would appear in a multitude of short films, such as “Say Grace Before Drowning”, “Kiss and Run” and “Stolen Love”. Afterwards, he assumed a part in two episodes of “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” and “Notorious”, a biopic about Biggie Smalls, a.k.a. The Notorious B.I.G.

After “Deceptive”, he landed his first recurring role, as Serviceman Walter in “Kings” -this short-lived drama was a mix of sci-fi and religion, and depicted the story of a man whom many deemed to be the next Biblical David. In subsequent years, Hisham appeared in several short films and somewhat underrated movies, such as “Five Minarets in New York”, “Single Hills” and “Those People”. However, in 2013 at the age of 43, he finally landed his career-defining role.

Becoming a Star: “The Blacklist”

The story of how Hisham even got this role is very strange. Apparently, he got a last-minute call from his agent about an audition that was to take place on a hot Saturday. Not only were auditions uncommon on weekends, but they were also a rarity during summers. On top of all that, it was an improvisational audition, during which candidates simply showcased their acting skills without prepared roles and lines.

Despite having second thoughts, Tawfiq went to see what was going on, and ended up being chosen for the part of Dembe Zuma in a hot new show entitled “The Blacklist”. His character’s family was murdered by criminals, and he was sold into slavery. Somehow, he ended up in Kenya, hundreds of miles away from his home country of South Sudan. He was then found by Raymond Reddington, who helps him to regain his health and get an education. Fast forward to a few years later, and Zuma can speak 10 languages and has a Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature. Even though the role was initially a minor one, he was promoted to main character in Season 3, ans remained in the series from 2013 to 2023..

Most recently, Hashim appeared in “Harlem” (2021), and in “The Equalizer” in 2023.

Personal Life: Is Hisham Tawfiq Married? Does He Have Children?

Hisham Tawfiq is married to Spirit Tawfiq. That’s pretty much everything we know about them, which is mostly because Hisham is such a private person and doesn’t want to share personal information with the public. They have an 18-year-old son. As far as romance goes, Hisham has never been that outspoken, partly because he’s a practicing Muslim. During his time with the NYFD, he was one of less than 200 African-Americans on the force. In addition to his acting prowess, Hisham is also a major spokesman for racial equality, and the importance of giving back to the community.

In an interview with NBC News, he stated that it was ‘a dream come true to be able to show this Muslim character, this African-American character who even though was a criminal in some sorts still had this moral compass and allegiance to Islam’. Unbeknownst to most, he spent a period of two years being a professional West African jazz dancer.

Net Worth: How Rich is Hisham Tawfiq? What is His Salary?

Have you ever wondered how affluent this famous actor really is? According to authoritative sources, Hisham Tawfiq has a net worth of approximately $4 million, as of mid-2024 – there is no information pertaining to his current income, but he’s accumulated his wealth by becoming an essential part in one of the best shows of the decade.

Hisham Tawfiq

In addition, Hisham also assumed many other parts before devoting the majority of his time to “The Blacklist”. Given that he was a late bloomer, we can expect his net worth to rise, as he’ll get many more quality roles.

Body Measurements: How Tall is Hisham Tawfiq?

Hisham Tawfiq is 5ft 11ins (180cm) tall; his weight and other measurements are unknown, but everybody is aware of the fact that he is an avid gym-goer. On many occasions in “The Blacklist”, he showcased his chiseled abs and a stunning figure.

Online Presence

As it is the case with many actors, Hisham understands the importance of social media as a promotional tool for artists around the world, so he’s massively popular on Instagram and Twitter.

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General Info

Full NameHisham Tawfiq


SpouseRuth Tawfiq


MoviesNotorious, Five Minarets in New York, Watching TV with the Red Chinese, Crazy Beats Strong Every Time, Dead Man Down, The Bravest, the Boldest, Black Card, Dope Fiend, Frisk, High Ground
TV ShowsThe Blacklist

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Source: IMDb, Wikipedia

As a Freelance Writer at Biography Pedia, I oversee the full writing process, from in-depth research to the development of compelling narratives, ensuring accuracy and excellence in our output. Our goal is to produce insightful profiles that deeply explore the lives of prominent figures in business, entertainment, and other fields. Through meticulous research and engaging storytelling, we spotlight the significant journeys and achievements of individuals who captivate and inspire our readers.

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