Nedjo Osman was born in 1958 in Skopje, Macedonia, in former Yugoslavia. After studying at the Film and Theatre Academy in Novi Sad (formerly in Yugoslavia, now in Serbia) he began his acting career at the Roma Theater Pralipe in Skopje. He worked as an actor in the National Theatre KPGT in Subotica (Serbia) and appeared on stage at the Serbian National Theatre in Novi Sad and the Jugoslovensko Dramsko Pozorište (JDP), the Yugoslavian Drama Theatre in Belgrade. Since then, he has played leading roles in more than 40 productions, from classical to modern, and has received numerous awards for his work.
After the outbreak of the war in the Balkans he came to Germany, to the Theater an der Ruhr in Mülheim an der Ruhr, as a member of the Theater Pralipe ensemble.
Since 1995 Osman has been artistic director of the TKO Theater Köln / Theater Kokotovic–Osman, together with Nada Kokotovic. Working as a freelance actor, director, poet and journalist, Osman also directed and moderated radio programmes in Romanes – between 2000 and 2002 at Radio Multi-Kulti in Berlin and between 2002 and 2014 at Deutsche Welle in Bonn.
In recent years he has been working in Cologne and many other German cities as a social worker and mediator on various Roma projects.
As a long-time activist and translator, Osman aims to raise further interest in the art of the Roma as one of the most important elements of their culture and identity. He further strives to utilize his work to provide access to their culture and theatre for non-Roma – and thereby to challenge widespread opinions and prejudices regarding Roma.
Nedjo Osman is also a translator into Romanes and a poet. Already in his early youth he discovered his passion for writing. He finds his inspiration on the street, in the neighbourhoods of Roma people, in his experiences with non-Roma and in love as a source of beauty. His poems have been published in Turkey, Serbia, the Republic of Macedonia, Croatia and Germany.
During his time at the National Theatre KPGT in Subotica, Nedjo Osman’s most important roles included the lead role in Shakespeare’s Othello, Orestes in The Eumenides (Aeschylus), Bluebeard in Duke Bluebeard’s Castle (Béla Balázs), the Chinese in The Lover (Marguerite Duras) and Sebastian in Anita Berber (director: Nada Kokotovic).
At the Theater Pralipe his most important roles, under the direction of Rahim Burhan, were Leonardo in Lorca’s Blood Wedding, Romeo in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and the lead role in his Othello, Creon in Sophocles’s Oedipus and Marat in Marat/Sade (Peter Weiss).
In the TKO Theater in Cologne, under the direction of Nada Kokotovic, his most important roles included: Jean in Strindberg’s Miss Julie, the lead role in Shakespeare’s Richard III, Macbeth in Die Hamletmaschine (Heiner Müller) and Rukeli in Rukeli (after Rike Reiniger).
As a guest performer at various German city theatres his most important productions were: Goya at Tanz Forum Köln (director: Jochen Ulrich), Words of God at Schauspielhaus Düsseldorf (director: Werner Schroeter), Merlin oder das wüste Land at Theater am Turm, Frankfurt (director: Aleksandar Brill) and Lysistrate at Staatstheater Saarbrücken (director: Nada Kokotovic).
Nedjo Osman has played at various international festivals in Europe and won numerous prizes, among them the Superlative Critique, the Golden Laurel Wreath. The latter was awarded to him for his role as Leonardo in Lorca’s Blood Wedding at the International Theatre Festival MESS in Sarajevo in 1991 and he was further honoured for playing the leading role in Anita Berber at the Festival Vojvodjanski susreti in Sombor (Serbia) in 1997.
In 2003 the Yul Brynner Prize was awarded for the first time in Berlin. Here Osman was honoured twice: for directing the play Medea and as a Roma actor.
In 2017 he received the Šaip Jusuf Award in Zagreb (Croatia) for lifetime achievement. It is awarded for important contributions to promoting the participation of Roma in education and for protecting the Roma language and culture.