Hisham Tawfiq

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Hisham Tawfiq
Born (1970-05-17) May 17, 1970 (age 49)
TelevisionThe Blacklist
Spouse(s)Spirit Tawfiq

Hisham Tawfiq (born May 17, 1970) is an American actor, best known for playing Dembe Zuma, part of the security detail and very close friend to Raymond "Red" Reddington in NBC's The Blacklist.

Early life[edit]

Born in New York City, Tawfiq discovered his love of the arts while performing the poem "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" by Maya Angelou in high school. Tawfiq studied at the Negro Ensemble Company, known for educating actors such as Denzel Washington and Ossie Davis. He also studied with coach Susan Batson.

Prior to pursuing a full acting career, Tawfiq served in the U.S. Marines, deployed during Operation Desert Storm.[1] From 1994 to 1996, Tawfiq worked as a corrections officer in the Sing Sing Correctional Facility in Ossining, New York.[2] While pursuing his acting career, Tawfiq also served as a firefighter with the New York City Fire Department.[3]


Tawfiq performed with The Arkansas Repertory Theatre in Intimate Apparel and played Walter Lee in a production A Raisin in the Sun, which Tawfiq has said to be his dream role.[4]

Tawfiq starred in the BET film Gun Hill as Capt. Sanford, commander of a counter-crime task force. On television, Tawfiq has appeared in Lights Out, Law & Order spin-offs Special Victims Unit and Criminal Intent, Kings, Golden Boy, 30 Rock, and the 2013 NBC remake of Ironside.

Tawfiq currently plays Dembe in NBC's The Blacklist. Starting with season 3, he was promoted to series regular.


Year Film Role Notes
2009 Notorious
2010 Say Grace Before Drowning Chris
2010 Counterfeit Malik
2010 Contact Zone Prince
2010 Five Minarets in New York
2011 Crazy Beats Strong Every Time Kofi
2013 Dead Man Down Jamaican Mike
2014 Gun Hill Capt. Sanford
Year Series Role Notes
2007–2008 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit 2 episodes
2009 Kings 5 episodes
2010 Law & Order: Criminal Intent
2011 Lights Out
2012 30 Rock 2 episodes
2013 Golden Boy
2013 Ironside
2013–present The Blacklist Dembe Zuma Recurring Role (Season 1-2)
Main Cast (Season 3-present)
Year Piece Role Notes
A Raisin in the Sun Walter Lee Young
Intimate Apparel George Armstrong
A Soldiers Play Henson
Offspring Kyle
Bow Wow Club Sal
Shaka Zulu Shaka


  1. ^ "'The Blacklist' star Hisham Tawfiq has gone from the Marines and the FDNY to full-time acting". Retrieved July 25, 2016.
  2. ^ "New Yorkers dreaming of stardom pick up extra jobs while working towards fame". Retrieved August 2, 2015.
  3. ^ "Blacklist actor Hisham Tawfiq is retiring from the FDNY after 20 years on the squad". Entertainment Weekly. July 17, 2015. Retrieved August 2, 2015.
  4. ^ Hill, Jack W. (20 January 2011). "THEATER: Rep's Raisin in the Sun stars Little Rock native". Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Retrieved 29 April 2016.

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