Qays Sheikh Najib was born into the world of cinema and the arts in Damascus, in 1977. His father, renowned actor and director Mohamed El Sheikh Najib, and his mother, Khadija El- Abed, a traditional Syrian folk dancer inspired his early curiosity about the stage.
A teenager fascinated by art, music, and above all acting, Qays used to accompany his father on set, which nurtured his passion for the craft of acting. The precocious thespian made a few appearances on television and on stage when only a teenager, and fell irremediably in love with the atmosphere of the set – its energy, lights, sounds, and smell.
Determined to follow his passion, Qays embraced the acting profession and graduated from Damascus's Higher Institute of Dramatic Arts in 1998. Soon after, he earned a scholarship to study in France, where he acted in several festivals, and also appeared in plays in Germany. His repertoire includes not only modern theater but also world-renowned classics such as Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment. , where he played the role of Raskolkinov. In fact, Qays has long been passionate about theater, literature and classical music, from Dvorak to Tchaikovsky, and switched interest to hard rock in his late teenager years.
To date, Qays has more than 70 TV shows to his credit, as well as half a dozen feature films. A versatile actor, he has tackled everything from tragedy to comedy, to mainstream soap operas to dramas tackling deep social issues. He most enjoys playing characters dissimilar to his easygoing persona, and immersing himself in complex, multifaceted roles.
After his graduation from the acting academy, roles led to one another, and Qays soon got his break on television with popular Ramadan nighttime Syrian dramas, Al Tayr (The Bird) in 1998, and Al Jamal (The Camel), the next year, which were broadcast across the Arab world. He then appeared in Baqaya Suwar (Remnant Photos) in 2000 and part 3 of Al Bawasel (The Valiant) in 2002. Qays anchored his reputation with Layali al-Salhiya (Good Nights) in 2004, a Syrian crime drama with an all-star cast that met with resounding success throughout the Arabic-speaking world. The same year, he also appeared as Salah, alongside a prestigious cast, in director Hatem Ali's Al-Taghriba Al-Falastiniya (Palestinian Westernization), which dealt with the struggles of a Palestinian family over several generations. Qays's interest in tackling social issues carried on many other titles, such as 2010's Ma Malakat Aymanukum (What Your Faith Owns), which tackled extremism and social chaos.
Qays has also acted in several historical dramas, among them Salah El-Din El Ayoubi (2001), Saqf el-Alam (Roof of the World) (2007), where he reprised the role of Antonio Banderas in the 1999 feature film The 13th Warrior, playing Ahmad bin Fadlan, and in Zaman el Barghout (Time of the Flea) (2012), set in Syria during the French Mandate. He also guest starred in Bab al-Hara (The Neighborhood's Gate) for the first few seasons of the 10-year-running Ramadan nighttime series.
In 2014, Qays starred as Fadi in Al-Ikhwa (The Brotherhood), which was partly directed by his brother Saif Sheikh Najib. A wide popular success, the series dealt with a tense internal conflict between five siblings fighting for their wealthy father's inheritance.
No stranger to romantic comedies, Qays notably starred in shows such as Madraset el Hobb (The School of Love) (2016), Yaret (I wish), (2016) and the popular hit Julia (2018), where he played the role of a psychiatrist. Earlier, he had already played a romantic interest in the 2015 Ottoman-era Lebanese drama Bint al-Shahbandar (Shahbandar's Daughter).
In 2019, Qays starred in two high-profile, albeit quite dissimilar series, which both earned widespread success: Syrian contemporary crime drama Massafet Aman (A Distance of Safety), and Haramlek, whose intrigue was set among the background of the rise of the Mamluk in Egypt.
Most recently, in 2020, Qays starred as Saad in Awlad Adam (Adam's Children), an out-of-the box role he particularly enjoyed, and which he entirely played with one eye patched. This Pan-Arab series, which was met with worldwide resounding success, centered around two couples' hidden scandals and yearning for triumph.
Alongside his television work, Qays has also acted in a number of films, and is especially proud of having starred in Syrian productions, thus supporting the burgeoning Syrian film industry. He notably acted under the direction of his father in Wa Maza Baad (And After What) in 2002, in Ghassan Shemeit's Al-Hawiye (I.D.) in 2007, and Joud Saeed's Marra Ukhra (Once Again) (2009).
Qays has also delved into television presenting. In 2015, he hosted Arab Presenter on Abu Dhabi TV. In September 2020, he returned to host the third season of the hit talk show A'det Rigala (Men's Gathering) on Orbit Showtime Network (OSN), alongside Nicolas Mouawad and Khaled Selim. Each episode features a female celebrity guest, whom the hosts question from different perspectives, to confront male and female points of view on personal and social issues.
Qays has been honored with several awards, among them Lebanon's Murex d'Or in 2020, which recognizes excellency in art and entertainment, as well as the Best Actor award in 2007 for his role in the series Aala Haffet al-Hawiya (On the Edge of the Abyss) at the Adonia Festival for his role of Nader. Since 2014, he has been a member of the semifinals jury of the international Emmy Awards, and greatly enjoys discovering global talents and creating deep and meaningful connections within likeminded people in the industry.
A dedicated humanitarian, Qays is involved in multiple charity endeavors, including supporting the cause of refugees, on which topic he led discussions with the UNHCR. He has notably been working for several years already with leading NGO Mentor Arabia, which is dedicated to empowering Arab youth.
In between his busy shooting schedule, Qays divides his time between the Middle East and North America.