Toronto

K'naan holding auditions in Etobicoke for HBO series

Born in Somalia and raised in Toronto's Dixon Road community, K'naan is turning to the neighbourhood he once called home to find a star for a new television series called The Recruiters.

Auditions were held for poets and artists ages of 17-25 Friday and will continue Saturday

Husam Alaghabria, also known as 'Poetik Wizdom,' drove in from Ottawa to audition for a role in a new HBO series The Recruiters, directed by Toronto's own K'naan. (CBC)

Born in Somalia and raised in Toronto's Dixon Road community, K'naan is turning to the neighbourhood he once called home to find a star for a new television series called The Recruiters.

Auditions for the role of a "young Somali man" were held for poets, musicians and rappers between the ages of 17 and 25 in Etobicoke on Friday at Thistletown Community Centre and will continue Saturday at the Somali Immigrant Aid Organization on Weston Road. 

The international rap star posted the casting call on his Twitter feed in late November and again earlier this month, where he also indicated that the series has backing from HBO. 

K'naan's success is inspiring Somali-speaking youth auditioning for the project to reach for their dreams too.

And that has Somali-speaking youth auditioning for the project inspired to reach for their dreams, too.

Yousef Makaran is one of them.

"To me K'naan has been very important in my life because I not only see a black figure, but a Somali black figure in the entertainment world, which shows me that if he can do it then I can also do it," the 20-year-old actor said.

He isn't the only one who K'naan has motivated.

Husam Alaghabria, or "Poetik Wizdom," as he goes by in the poetry world, drove in from Ottawa to audition for the role. 

"What I see from him is the grind," he said of K'naan. "Going from Toronto all the way to HBO, it's amazing and it lets other people know that whatever you set your mind to you can also achieve."

Various U.S. media reports, including a story in The Hollywood Reporter, say the series will zero in on the process of recruitment of young Somali men into Islamic extremist groups.

CBC News could not independently confirm the subject the series will explore.

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