20 Muslim Women In Media, Arts, & Culture
Posted on Feb 14, 2018
As a follow-up to Muslim Women Who Owned 2017, these are profiles of Muslim women making waves in the media, arts, and culture. Whether they're in journalism, literature, screenwriting, producing, or comedy, these are the names to watch in 2018.
1. Amani Al-Khatahtbeh, Media Maverick
Less than two months into the new year, and we've already crowned 2018's 'It Girl' -- Ms. Amani Al-Khatahtbeh! Talk about speaking truth to power and holding fast to your values; Amani received Revlon's Changemaker Award last year but turned it down because doing so would tie her to company's brand ambassador Gal Gadot, who has voiced vocal support of the Israeli Defense Forces and their human rights violations against Palestinians. Amani is also the editor-in-chief of Muslim Girl, a platform that elevates the voices and issues of Muslim women. She has been featured in Vice, Teen Vogue, Forbes' 30 Under 30 list, Brit.co, and Bustle, among others. She has also appeared in "The Secret Life of Muslims," an Emmy-nominated web docuseries. As if that's not enough, her book Muslim Girl: A Coming of Age was named a New York Times Editors pick! Get it girrrrrl!
2. Tahera Rahman, Reporter
Tahera is the first hijabi reporter to appear on mainstream TV news in the United States. Her inspiring story was highlighted by her employer, where she spoke of working later hours and on weekends in the hope that her hard work would land her a full-time on-air reporting gig. After years of hearing "no" because of wearing a headscarf, her efforts paid off! She tearfully recounted how her mother rooted her on when she felt like giving up, that she was going to pick herself up and go after every opportunity that came her way, no matter what. Her story is one for the books!
3. Rowaida Abdelaziz, Reporter
April 2017 HH Hijabi of the Month Rowaida is a reporter at HuffPost, where she spearheads coverage of Islamophobia and reports on social justice issues in the Muslim community. Last year, Rowaida was the lead reporter for the Islamophobia Tracker, which documents instances and details of Islamophobic attacks over the past two years. She also launched HuffPost's Tomorrow Inshallah, a community Facebook page that targets and amplifies Muslim voices and perspectives. Catch her at the SXSW Conference where she will be a panel speaker for "Covering Islam as a Muslim in Trump's America."
4. Lena Khan, Filmmaker
UCLA alum and So-Cal native Lena Khan spent five years creating the 2017 film, "The Tiger Hunter," which chronicles an Indian Muslim's immigrant experience to the United States in the 1970's. Her feature film is the result of years of painstaking effort, numerous cold-emails to potential investors, and plenty of naysaying from community members. She told Teen Vogue that entering the industry is "grueling" and "incredibly hard to get into." If young filmmakers can brace themselves for repeatedly hearing 'no,' and are dedicated and passionate enough, then venturing into Hollywood to tell untold stories is worth getting into.
5. Nida Chowdhry, Producer/Director
Nida is another So-Cal native making her mark in Tinseltown. She, along with Yumna Khan, helped create the web-based show "Unfair and Ugly" (currently in post-production and due out this year) about a South Asian family and the various issues they deal with living in Southern California. Chowdhry has also written and performed comedy sketches at UCB in New York, and co-founded the nonprofit organization Fashion Fighting Famine, which produced fashion shows while promoting Muslim women-owned businesses.
6. Rafeef Ziadah, Poet
Rafeef is a performance poet and activist with two albums currently out, called "Hadeel" and "Teach Life." She is of Palestinian descent and is currently based in London. Her themes center around war, exile, gender, and racism. She is outspoken about the plight of Palestinians and their resilience in the face of oppression and injustice. Her powerful poetry has won praise from Angela Davis and propelled her to global recognition.
7. Dena Takruri, Journalist/Producer
Dena is a presenter on AJ+, a subsidiary of the Al Jazeera Media Network. Her background as a journalist has taken her to various corners of the globe, from North Korea to the West Bank to the streets of Charlotte, NC where she's spoken with families affected by police brutality and shootings. She has also produced "The Secret Life of Muslims," and was one of the first journalists to report on Facebook Live, where she profiled Europe's refugee crisis in September 2015.
8. Mariam Sobh, Radio Host
Chicago-based Mariam has appeared on TV, worked in print, and even launched a hijab fashion site called Hijabtrendz in 2007! She's even appeared in the short film, "The Outcast," which screened at the Cannes Film Festival in 2017. She is currently an anchor and reporter on WBBM News Radio in Chicago.
9. Eman Idil Bare, Journalist/Designer
Eman is a Canadian journalist who writes for Teen Vogue, the Huffington Post, and Muslim Girl. She has a brilliant eye for design and beauty and is a modest fashion editor for the Demureist. She says that Oprah and watching the CBC News inspired her to go into journalism, and she doesn't allow her hijab to be an obstacle to success. "Either get used to it or get out of my way," she says. We're with you on that one, Eman! Keep killing it.
10. Yasmin Nouh, Producer
Yasmin is a digital producer for Fusion. She's been a Blog Editor for the Huffington Post and has also lent her talents to CNN and the Council on American Islamic Relations – Los Angeles. She's covered topics spanning immigration, social justice, and diaspora communities. Fun fact: she was also a 2014 recipient of the Islamic Scholarship Fund while a masters student at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism.
11. Maysoon Zayid, Standup Comedian
Maysoon is a comedian, actress, disability advocate and tap dancer, according to her website. She is of Palestinian descent and speaks openly about her ethnic heritage and living with cerebral palsy. She gave a TED talk entitled, "I got 99 problems ... palsy is just one," which has been viewed 4.5 million times!
12. Noor Tagouri, Journalist
At 24 years old, Noor has been featured in an array of mainstream publications ranging from the Washington Post to the New York Times to the BBC and even Fox News. Her docu-series on the sex trade industry will premiere next month on Hulu.
13. Fatima Manji, Journalist/TV Anchor
Fatima is Britain's first hijab-wearing TV reporter. When a reporter from The Sun thought it inappropriate that she reported on the terrorist attacks in Nice last summer, she refused to ignore it. She told The Guardian last month, "I had to react to it with strength rather than be a victim. So even though I was worried about my safety, even though it was incredibly upsetting, I felt the reaction had to be, 'Hey, you don’t get to say that!' And, 'I am Britain, get used to me.'"
14. Ginella Massa, Journalist/TV Anchor
As Canada's first hijabi reporter, Ginella had insecurities about becoming a TV reporter since she'd never seen someone like her perform the job before. Her mom quelled her anxieties, telling her, "You want to be on TV, go for it. Just because no one else has done it, doesn’t mean it can’t be done." She enjoys the fact that her hijab forces viewers to focus on what she has to say rather than on her hair or makeup, which is really what reporting is ultimately about!
15. Yuna, Singer
In the world of Hollywood and the music industry, Malaysian Yuna is a true trailblazer. Her first Billboard hit, "Crush" featuring Usher, has come after years of putting in hard work and dedication to her music; she left her home country in 2011 to make the permanent move to Los Angeles and join her mentor Pharell Williams in honing her work. She's disgruntled by the hate promoted by Donald Trump's administration but is confident that music can soften people's hearts from it.
16. Randa Abdel-Fattah, Writer
Randa has an impressive list of titles and accomplishments under her belt. Not only is she a novelist, she's also a mother of four, and has worked as a lawyer, human rights advocate and community volunteer. She also has a Ph.D. in sociology. Her debut novel Does My Head Look Big in This? was published in 2005 and is about a 16-year-old Australian Muslim who decides to wear the headscarf full-time and the challenges she faces as a result.
17. G. Willow Wilson, Writer
Wilson converted to Islam as a college student and is a comic book writer, novelist, and journalist. Her novel Alif the Unseen won the 2013 World Fantasy Award. Wilson also helped create Ms. Marvel, a comic book series about Kamala Khan, a superhero with shapeshifting powers who is of Pakistani descent.
18. Mara Brock Akil, Screenwriter/Producer
Mara is the creator of Being Mary Jane, one of BET's highest-rated shows. She has also written for the series South Central, The Jamie Foxx Show, Moesha, Girlfriends, and Cougar Town. She is married to Salim Akil, with whom she has two sons.
19. Amal Kassir, Poet
Fiercely passionate spoken word artist Amal Kassir is a force to be reckoned with. Her 16-minute spoken word performance at TedxMileHighWomen moved the audience to tears and laughter as she touched on the politics of names, airport security, #OurThreeWinners, 9/11, and more. Born and raised in Colorado to an American mother and Syrian father, Amal has traveled to 10 countries, giving lectures, workshops, and performances. With close ties to her father's homeland, she has traveled to refugee camps and hopes to use her global platform to advocate on behalf of the Syrian people and their revolution.
20. Najwa Zebian, Poet
Lebanese-Canadian poet Najwa Zebian's work has been featured in Glamour, BBC, the Times of India, and CBS News. She writes about politics, sexual and emotional harassment, trauma, displacement, and discrimination. When she relocated to Canada at the age of sixteen she initially felt vulnerable and out of place. It was not until she became a teacher to refugees years later that she re-discovered her talent for writing and poetry, and decided to share her gift with the world. As the #metoo movement took off last year, she penned a powerful open letter and poem to survivors about her own trauma and reassured them of their power and resilience. Her forthcoming book, Mind Platter, will be available in March.
We are so inspired by each and every one of these incredible women, and we can't wait to see what they have planned for 2018!
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