Sibel Kekilli

Sibel Kekilli

Kekilli in January 2015
Born (1980-06-16) June 16, 1980
Heilbronn, Germany
Residence Hamburg, Germany
Other names Dilara
Occupation Actress
Years active 2003–present

Sibel Kekilli (born 16 June 1980) is a German actress.[1] She gained public attention after starring in the 2004 film Head-On. She won two Lolas, the most prestigious German film awards, for her performances in Head-On and When We Leave (2010). In 2011, she became more widely known for her role as Shae in the HBO series Game of Thrones.

Early life

Kekilli was born and raised in Heilbronn, to a family of Turkish origin. Her parents came to Germany from Turkey in 1977, and were described by Kekilli as "fairly liberal".[2] 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. 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 under the stage name "Dilara".[3][4]


Kekilli (middle) with John B. Emerson and his family in February 2015
Kekilli at the 2012 Berlin International Film Festival

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.[5] She won the leading part in Head-On (German: Gegen die Wand) against a field of 350 other hopefuls. The film was released in 2004 and was a major success, receiving several prizes at film festivals. Filming proved strenuous for Kekilli personally, and she underwent an appendectomy during filming in Turkey.[6]

Shortly after the release of Head-On, Kekilli's work in pornography became widely known.[3][7] This report, published by the German tabloid newspaper Bild-Zeitung, led to a public sensation, and Kekilli's parents broke off all contact with her.[2] She received the 2004 Bambi prize for "best shooting star" for her role in Head-On. During the televised acceptance speech, she tearfully complained about the "dirty smear campaign" and "media rape" against her.[8] Bild-Zeitung was later reprimanded by the German Press Council (Deutscher Presserat) for the manner in which it covered the story.[9]

Kekilli starred in the Turkish coup d'état film Eve Dönüş (2006), playing the wife of a man who was unjustly imprisoned and tortured. The performance won her the Best Actress award at the 2006 Antalya Golden Orange Film Festival. Also that year, she played a Jewish woman on the way to the Auschwitz concentration camp in the 2006 film Der letzte Zug (The Last Train). In 2009, she played Umay, a young Turkish woman who leaves Istanbul to return to her family in Berlin, in When We Leave (Die Fremde). She was awarded the Lola for Best Actress in 2010 for her role.[10] In 2010, Kekilli was cast as Shae in HBO's Game of Thrones, an adaptation of George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire novels.[11]

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.[12] She said that she was glad not to be playing a character of foreign descent, as she feels she has been typecast in the past.[13]

Personal life

Kekilli lives in Hamburg.[2]

Kekilli supports the organization Terre des Femmes in its work against violence against women. 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. Sadly, violence belongs to the culture of Islam".[14] In response, the Turkish consul general left the room.[14]



Year Title Role Notes
2004 Head-On
2004 Kebab Connection Italienerin
2006 Winterreise Leyla
2006 Fay Grim Concierge First Istanbul Hotel
2006 The Last Train
2006 Eve Dönüş
2009 Pihalla Laura
2010 When We Leave
2011 What a Man Nele
2012 Die Männer der Emden Salima Bey


Year Title Role Notes
2010present Tatort Sarah Brandt 12 episodes
20112014 Game of Thrones Shae 20 episodes



  1. Malzahn, Claus Christian (6 March 2007). "Schauspielerin Sibel Kekilli: "Ich bin mir sicher, dass ich irgendwann aus Deutschland wegziehe"". Der Spiegel. Retrieved 4 March 2011.
  2. 1 2 3 "Sibel Kekilli Biografie", Yahoo Movies (in German), retrieved 5 December 2009
  3. 1 2 "Culture & Lifestyle: From Bare to Bear for Ex-Porn Queen", Deutsche Welle, 18 February 2004, retrieved 20 October 2007
  4. "Sibel Kekilli: Neue Traumrolle für die Schauspielerin".
  5. "Man erkennt sich", Welt am Sonntag (in German), 7 March 2004
  6. Gegen die Wand-Presseheft, page 6.(German)
  7. Sibel Kekilli at the Internet Adult Film Database
  8. "Goldene Rehkitze für Hanks, Kekilli und Elton John", Spiegel Online (in German), 19 November 2004
  9. Deutscher Presserat rügt "Bild"-Zeitung. (in German) (20 November 2004). Retrieved on 23 June 2012.
  10. Vogel, Elke (23 April 2010). ""Das weiße Band" räumt bei Gala zehn Lolas ab". Die Welt (in German). Retrieved 24 April 2010.
  11. Not A Blog – You Guys Are Scary Good, the Sequel. Retrieved on 23 June 2012.
  12. Koch, Dorit (2 October 2011). "Kieler Tatort-Duo: Sibel Kekilli, die Neue an der Seite von Axel Milberg". Die Welt (in German). Retrieved 18 October 2011.
  13. "Sibel Kekilli: "Tatort"-Rolle ist Ritterschlag". Focus (in German). 12 August 2010. Retrieved 18 October 2011.
  14. 1 2 "Eklat um Sibel Kekilli in Berlin", Der Tagesspiegel (in German), 4 December 2006
  15. "When We Leave Scores Top Honors at Tribeca Film Festival". New York Magazine. 29 April 2010. Retrieved 15 May 2010.
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