Samira Saraya is a Palestinian film, television and theater actor, filmmaker, poet, rapper and spoken word artist.
Saraya was born in Haifa, to Nimr and Subahiya Saraya. She is the 11th of their 13 children.
At age 19, Saraya moved to Jerusalem to study nursing at the Hebrew University. She began her nursing career at Ichilov hospital in Tel Aviv in the oncology-hematology ward. After working in several different positions at the hospital, including training positions, she began teaching at the Sheinbein nursing college, and managed a private immunotherapy clinic.
Saraya displayed talent and passion for acting from a young age, when she would “put on shows” for her family. But it was only in 1997, in her early twenties, that she got her first real taste of acting, when she participated in an acting workshop in a community center in Lod.
Saraya has played guest roles in series such as “Fauda” and “Sirens”, multiple student films, and in 2018, appeared in a German-Israeli experimental film, The Valley of the Cross. Filmed in Germany, the film is the story of a lesbian love affair between two women in 1920s Palestine. Also in 2018, Saraya got the supporting role of Hudna on the hit television “She Has It”, which has been greenlighted for a second season.
In June 2015, Saraya won the best screenplay award at the Tel Aviv LGBT film festival, TLVFest..
Saraya’s directorial debut was with the short film Polygraph. The film’s premier was in the 2020 edition of the LGBT film festival, TLVFest. She had previously won the short screenplay competition for Polygraph in the 2017 festival, receiving a grant from Gesher Foundation to produce and shoot the film. Polygraph stars Saraya and Hadas Yaron in the lead roles.
Saraya’s political and social activism began with the queer-anarchist group Black Laundry, and she was one of the founders of Aswat, the queer Palestian women’s group, in which she worked to change the perception of the LGBT community in Palestinian society. She was also a part of Tel Aviv’s queer political scene in the early 2000s, and one of the organizers of the Queerhana collective, which held non-profit parties for the community, in order to provide marginalized LGBT persons an alternative to the commercial, apolitical lines. The Queerhana parties and activism were documented in the film Nation Monsters and Super Queers, in which Saraya participated.