British drama graduate Ahmed Elhaj has been cast to star alongside “inspiration” Vince Vaughn in Apple series Bad Monkey.
The 23-year-old actor landed the life-changing US role alongside the “esteemed actor” after he was recognised by Warner Bros as a top 10 graduate.
Elhaj graduated from The London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA), where he studied on a full scholarship, at the height of the pandemic in 2020.
After a global search, the young actor was hand-picked from thousands of actors as part of the scheme acknowledging talented students whose final years in drama school were affected by Covid-19.
He has now been cast as a regular lead in the series, based on Carl Hiaasen’s 2013 novel.
Elhaj told the PA news agency: “When I found out from my agent that I was cast in Bad Monkey I felt ecstatic.
“It was surreal to achieve such a big role at such an early stage in my career.
“I had been working towards this moment when I was given my scholarship to LAMDA and now I felt that I had earned it.
“Holding the phone, I had to take a moment to really believe it.
“I am really excited to get on the Warner Bros lot and worked with such esteemed actors that I have grown up being inspired by.”
Elhaj will be playing a Bahamian fisherman who gets drawn into a world of corruption after getting caught up with a former detective, played by Vaughn, and a tourist out fishing lands a severed arm.
Born in west London, Elhaj also appeared as lead role Henry Jones in Grantchester, becoming the first black actor to land a major role in the ITV prime-time series.
He added: “To be the first black actor in a major role in Grantchester has been very significant and validating for me.
“To be cast at this time when there is finally some meaningful change, means a great deal.
“Especially on such a widely renowned and watched show.”
Filming for the series, written by Ted Lasso co-creator Bill Lawrence, will begin in Miami in February.