It was a busy Sunday night for the members club at Café Royal, the swanky hotel in the heart of Piccadilly Circus.
The exclusive crowd included models, socialites, gallerists and art dealers alike, where London’s elite attended the event to support actor Edward Akrout. Not only was Edward screening an episode of Mr. Selfridge (in which he stars), but was also making his debut in the art world.
I arrived early to the soirée, walking in on the handsome artist frantically rearranging his paintings. He spoke in French to an entourage, directing them as where to place certain pieces before any guests appeared. Whilst offering him a hand, he charmingly apologized for his nervousness. Explaining that it was the first time he’d be revealing his artwork to the public.
His paintings included acrylic, ink and charcoal designs. The fourteen, mostly portrait, drawings certainly set the theme for the affair.
Edward had accumulated pieces throughout the years, having created them in Paris, New York and at his home in London. Coming from an artistic family, painting came naturally and had remained a passion of his. Akrout described that even though he was capable of handling the daily rejection and criticism he faced as an actor, the idea of establishing himself within the art community terrified him. This was evidently the most personal venture he’d embarked on.
The 32-year-old actor was born to a Franco-British Mother and a Tunisian Father. Having been raised in Paris, he moved to England in 2008 to train at LAMDA. Since that time he has been prominent on stage and screen. Edward’s character Pierre Longchamp arrives in episode 2, Season 3 of Mr. Selfridge, stealing the spotlight and becoming Selfridge’s (Jeremy Piven) right hand man.
The crowded cinema anxiously awaited Akrout’s appearance until mid-episode, when the room erupted with cheers as the man himself emerged onto the screen, captivating the audiences’ attention with a menacing presence and enticing disposition.
After the live premier a congregation of supports surrounded the actor as he sat alongside his mother. No doubt taking in the atmosphere, relieved by the evening’s closure.
His artwork will remain on display for the month of February at Café Royal, following up to his next screening and significant episode, which airs on March 1st. You can watch Edward in Mr. Selfridge every Sunday night on ITV at 9pm.