1. Sibel Kekilli is a German actress. She gained public attention after starring in the 2004 film Head-On.
2. She won two Lolas, the most prestigious German film awards, for her performances in Head-On and When We Leave .
3. Beginning in 2011, she became more widely known for her role as Shae in the HBO series Game of Thrones, as well as for her activism against violence against women.
4. Kekilli was born and raised in Heilbronn, to a family of Turkish origin.
5. Her parents came to Germany from Turkey in 1977, and were described by Kekilli as “fairly liberal”. After completing school with excellent grades at age 16, she entered a 30-month-long combined training program to become a certified public administration specialist at the local city administration.
6. After successful completion, she continued to work as administrative assistant for another two years at Heilbronn city hall, then moved to Essen, where she worked various jobs as a bouncer, cleaner, waitress, nightclub manager, saleswoman, and pornographic film actress.
7. In 2002, while at a shopping mall in Cologne, Kekilli was noticed by a casting director, who invited her to audition for a role in a film. She won the leading part in Head-On against a field of 350 other hopefuls.
8. The film was released in 2004 and was a major success, receiving several prizes at film festivals.
9. Filming proved strenuous for Kekilli personally, and she underwent an appendectomy during filming in Turkey.
10. During the televised acceptance speech, she tearfully complained about the “dirty smear campaign” and “media rape” she was subject to.
11. The performance won her the Best Actress award at the 2006 Antalya Golden Orange Film Festival.
12. Also that year, she played a Jewish woman on the way to the Auschwitz concentration camp in the 2006 film Der letzte Zug .
13. In 2009, she played Umay, a young Turkish woman who leaves Istanbul to return to her family in Berlin, in When We Leave .
14. She was awarded the Lola for Best Actress in 2010 for her role.
15. In 2011, one year after first appearing in a supporting role in the long-running crime series Tatort, she became a permanent cast member as new investigator Sarah Brandt, working alongside chief investigator Klaus Borowski.
16. Kekilli supports the organization Terre des Femmes in its work against violence against women.
17. In December 2006, at an anti-domestic violence event run by the Turkish newspaper Hürriyet in Berlin, she stated, “I have experienced for myself that both physical and psychological abuse are regarded as normal in a Muslim family.