Initially television producer Dick Wolf (“Law & Order”) had in mind a Latino actor to play the co-lead on his new show “FBI” (Tuesdays at 9pm on CBS) but an agent for Zeeko Zaki slipped him the script and encouraged his client to try for the role. The Egyptian-born actor not only tried but ended up snagging the role.
“They were very interested in me being just me,” says Zaki. “They were like, ‘We want America to have a beer with this guy. Bring a little levity into it.’” Zaki grew up in the Muslim faith outside of Philadelphia, and says prior to booking “FBI,” he was making a living playing terrorist and ex-military characters. In 2017, he appeared simultaneously on the Fox series “24: Legacy” and the History Channel series “Six.”
“Zeeko’s Egyptian/Muslim background both grounds and adds depth to the character,” says Wolf. “He speaks fluent Arabic and that character has not been on a series before. I think he is representative of the type of people that are the boots on the ground in the FBI.”
Zaki sees the role as a chance to change the narrative regarding representation in Hollywood. “I have a lot of Arab-American actor friends and everyone is sick and tired of playing terrorists and crying mothers.”