Acting Beyond Stereotypes: Middle Eastern & South Asian Actors Breaking the Mold

Scheduled for Feb 16, 2016

Actors often deal with the dilemma: play into a stereotype or act against it? With the growth of diversity in entertainment, particularly in television, there’s also been an increase in the depiction of Middle Eastern and South Asian characters. But this increase includes characterizations that many consider to be one-dimensional and lacking nuance. How does an actor up for the role of a “Convenience Store Clerk" or “Terrorist Number 4" avoid adding to negative stereotypes of people with these backgrounds. And alternatively, what happens when typecasting is so pervasive that casting directors dismiss actors who don’t look the stereotype? With a small range of roles, is it possible for these actors to help reframe the conversation, while creating and sustaining their careers? Panelists will share their real-world experiences in creating a different narrative, as well as moments they were able to transform portrayals into more complex, multidimensional characters – from comedians, satirical newscasters, ingénues, and yes, even terrorists.

Thanks to the SAG-AFTRA Equal Employment Opportunity & Diversity Department for assistance in this event.

Panel includes Aline Elasmar, Azita Ghanizada, Maz Jobrani, Aasif Mandvi and Navid Negahban. Moderated by Camille Allick.