Arts & Culture

Dua Saleh: Auggie on the Big Screen

Percy Bartelt, staff writer

With new faces coming to Hollywood every day, we don’t always expect to see someone we know, but today Augsburg’s very own alumus Dua Saleh is part of the “Sex Education” cast on Netflix, playing their recurring role as Cal Bowman. 

Saleh’s stardom came after a childhood filled with strife. According to Saleh’s interview with Them., Saleh was born in Kassala, Sudan, and their family fled Sudan when they were just five years old, in the middle of the Second Sudanese Civil War in the 1990s. From there, Saleh and their family moved a few times around the United States before they settled in Saint Paul, Minnesota, where Saleh then attended school. From a young age, Saleh is said to have had a natural affinity for poetry, creative writing and imagery, and overall be a very insightful, intuitive and unique person. The older they got, the more they honed in their various creative abilities and a drive for social change. Saleh is public about xyr non-binary identity and uses they/them, he/him and xe/xyr pronouns. 

During Saleh’s time at Augsburg, they double-majored in Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies as well as Sociology, and graduated in 2017. Both before and during their time at Augsburg, Saleh has done many things to better the community and to raise awareness to important issues, such as leading a walkout at their Saint Paul high school, getting involved in Neighborhoods Organizing for Change, and serving as a student leader with Pan-Afrikan Student Union (PASU) and LGBTQIA+ Student Services. It’s clear to see that Saleh is very passionate about social change and building awareness for topics that deserve attention. 

Saleh’s passion extends to the fine arts. They started pursuing music during their sophomore year at Augsburg after they felt this sudden urge to release all their feelings in a new way that relates to both their skill for poetry, and their awareness of self and identity. Saleh was known amongst slam poetry crowds for “breaking the rules,” which they were proud of. Reportedly, Saleh didn’t consider themself to be a singer, but after some experimenting with a friend who was into producing, they both made it work, and thus Saleh released their first single titled “First Take,” and used the stage name “Dua.” After releasing this single, a Minneapolis producer named Psymun, took Saleh under his wing. They are currently signed under the record label AGAINST GIANTS and make music across a few genres such as R&B, hip-hop, rap and pop. 

In 2019, Saleh was cast to play their first role, Cal Bowman in “Sex Education.” Their character is slowly growing within the main plotline of the story. Xyr character is non-binary and is open to their school about using they/them pronouns, and soon meets a boy named Jackson, whom they start to form a solid friendship with, but Jackson hints to wanting something more. 

Dua Saleh is the embodiment of passion, creativity, and strength. We are proud of our former Auggie to be able to make it big across multiple platforms in both music and acting, and should be recognized for their acts to help better their community. 

You can watch Saleh’s acting performance as Cal in season 3 of “Sex Education” on Netflix, and their music can be found on Spotify, Soundcloud and YouTube.