"When I was 14 years old and deep in the closet, I would cry myself to sleep at night, praying to God and begging him to make all the unwanted feelings and desires disappear. I would make deals with him and promise that the next day
I would help my father in the bakery, or that I would stop playing with my sister's Barbie's, if he would just let me be attracted to girls. But then, when morning came,
I would go to school and fall in love with one of the basketball players, and hate myself for it.
I was sure that I would grow up to marry a woman. That I would never love or be loved in the way that I really wanted. If someone had told that younger me that in 2016 I would marry Albert, the love of my life, in front of my family and the entire state of Israel, I would have said he or she was completely crazy”.
Assi Azar, one of the most famous and loved TV personalities in Israel, is inviting you to an hour long conversation about the crucial and powerful journey that the LGBTQ+ community in Israel has been through over the last few decades. From fighting for the right to celebrate a small gay pride parade in Tel Aviv in the 80s, which the police broke up, to hosting the biggest pride parade in the Middle East in 2019, with more than 200,000 visitors. All of this, alongside his personal story from a boy in the closet to one of Israel’s leading LGBTQ+ advocates.
More about Assi:
Assi Azar is a 42-year-old TV host and a screenplay writer. He was born and raised in Israel, beginning his career as a correspondent for a popular entertainment news show.
Assi's big break came in 2008 when Big Brother launched in Israel and he was chosen as host. Big Brother went on to break all rating records, garnering national attention and establishing Assi as one of the most popular, likable and influential entertainment personalities in Israel, which is still true today. Assi hosted the reality formal for eight successive seasons.
In 2013, Assi began presenting Rising Star, Tedy Productions and Keshet Broadcasting’s groundbreaking singing competition show which allowed audiences at home to vote in real time for the very first time. The format went on to become the fastest-selling talent show on record and to date, Rising Star has been remade in 17 territories worldwide – including India (Colors TV), Brazil (Globo), Indonesia (RCT1), China (CCTV), and Greece (Antenna). Assi has hosted all eight record-breaking seasons of Israel’s favorite talent show, which in 2018 discovered Eurovision-winner Netta, with Rising Star S9 slated to start shooting in May 2022 for Keshet 12.
In addition to Big Brother and Rising Star, Assi also fronts Ninja Warrior, hosting four seasons since 2018 the format launched. Assi is also internationally recognized by global audiences, having hosted the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest, from which he donated his presenting fee to his favorite LGBTQ+ youth organization, IGY.
Assi considers his biggest television achievement to date to be creating and writing three seasons of the romantic comedy The Baker and the Beauty. Originally launched in Israel at the end of 2013, the critically acclaimed drama has smashed ratings records with every season premiere on Keshet 12, which in turn, has led to international success. The Baker and the Beauty was picked up in a global deal by Amazon Prime and by Walter Presents for Channel 4 in the UK, while five international remakes have followed, including in the United States (Keshet Studios for ABC), in the Netherlands (Net5), Russia (CTC), Greece (Ant1) and India (a Telegu adaptation for aha). The third and final installment of Noa and Amos’s impossible love story is currently breaking ratings records in Israel.
Assi represents a new generation of TV hosts in Israel: a generation that is not afraid to express their personal opinions. Assi uses his stage to fight for rights he holds close to his heart, including gay marriage and equal rights. In 2009, he made his first documentary Mom, Dad I have Something to Tell You, visiting his own experience of coming out, exposing his personal vulnerability and difficulties of the process.
Later that year, Assi was voted one of the 100 most influential gays in the world by the America’s Out magazine.
In 2016, Assi released a follow-up feature documentary entitled He is My God Too, about his experiences of being Jewish and gay, which culminates with his marriage to Spanish architect Albert Escola in Barcelona.
Over the years, Assi has traveled across the US and Europe, talking to local communities about equal rights and his personal experiences at screenings of his documentaries. Assi remains very active in the LGBTQ+ community and uses social media to share his message more widely with audiences around the globe.
In 2020, Azar and his husband Albert were chosen as the faces of insurance giant AIG's TV adverts - the first time a major commercial TV campaign has been fronted by an openly gay couple.
In September 2021, Albert and Assi announced that they are expecting a baby girl through an American surrogate.