NPR reports on a “shift in Hollywood” where American Muslim talent is concerned. “On TV and on online streaming services, Hollywood watchers say more Muslim characters than ever before are showing up in sitcoms and dramas. The characters they portray are more nuanced and more complicated than usual. In part, that’s because many Muslims themselves are writing these shows and characters.”
Sameer Gardezi is a Pakistani-American screenwriter and the creator of the upcoming web series “East of La Brea” which is about twenty-something Muslim roommates trying to figure out life in Los Angeles. “I really feel like when people watch this it’s going to feel like [it is] an LA story,” says Sameer. “Being Muslim is part of them, we don’t ignore that, but at the same time their problems aren’t necessarily faith based; they are based on other aspects that I feel are more relevant to what it means to lead an American life.”
Despite progress, NPR reports that Hollywood still struggles with reflecting a more and more diverse America. The Hollywood Diversity Report, released by UCLA in 2018, shows people of color and women still lag in all key jobs in the industry, from leading roles to creators of content.
“East of La Brea” is just one of several projects by and about Muslims that are in the Hollywood pipeline. Sameer makes the vital point that there are many more stories to tell about the Muslim communities. “There are so many different versions and my hope would be that everyone gets a shot at telling their version,” he says. “So it doesn’t feel like ‘oh, this is the one Muslim show that needs to make it.'”