Of late, scholar and best-selling author Reza Aslan has had a new goal to tackle – Hollywood. He is an Executive Producer on the upcoming ABC series “Of Kings and Prophets,” and is hosting a talk show entitled “Rough Draft” for the Ovation network about screenwriters.
In this radio interview, Reza talks about casting. “Muslims/Middle Easterners just tend to be the token villain in a lot of these Hollywood productions, whether it’s film or on TV. That, I think, is a mistake on the part of the industry itself because Middle Easterners in the United States are a very well educated, very wealthy bloc.”
Aslan says that though he was involved in casting his ABC series, he acknowledges that two white British actors are set to play the leads, Saul and David. Despite this, he says that overall, the casting is diverse. “We are a cast that has two Arabs — a Palestinian and a Lebanese. We have an Indian. We have a New Zealander Maori. We have a Cuban. We have two African-Americans.”
Aslan has some definite thoughts on what it will take for the depictions of Muslims to become part of the “fabric of American culture.” “We will never be part of American culture until people start making fun of us on television. So I am desperate for the day when we will have a Muslim “All in the Family,” in which we have Middle Eastern characters who are on TV who are being poked fun at because of their culture, because of their identity, and who are poking fun at America, because of the way America treats them. I think that’s when you see people start to change their minds.”