Many of us don’t personally know, or simply only know of Muslims working in the entertainment industry. And while the industry is vast, living in the “Hollywood of the South” has presented many Atlanta residents, including Muslims, with the opportunity to be on screen, especially as background talent. So, to get a glimpse of what it’s like for an Atlanta Muslim to work in such a field, we reached out to Iman Shakoor, a graduate from GSU that has worked on screen for various projects for several years. Here’s what she had to say:
Can you tell me a little bit about yourself? I am 21 years old, and am a graduate from Georgia State University with a bachelor's in Speech Communications and a minor in Criminal Justice. I am currently studying for the LSAT for law school.
What part of the film industry piqued your interest and made you want to be a part of it? Since I was young, I’ve always been in love with movies and TV shows and grew up in the theatre world. I also never saw anyone who looked like me growing up who I could look up to. Being a Hijabi Muslim woman, I want to be that for young girls- someone they can look up to and can relate to.
What part is your favorite part now, what makes you want to keep coming back and continue working? I think, honestly, what makes me come back are the fans and supporters. They make it all worth it. Seeing all of the tweets and reading my Instagram DMs truly makes everything worth it. I think my favorite part would be just making the fans happy.
Briefly, what’s it like spending a day on set? It’s amazing. I work with the best people. I have made so many amazing friends who I can call family. There is never a day where I am not laughing. Typically I work a 13 hour day but it moves by so fast because of the people I work with.
How do you feel you’ve grown since you’ve begun? I think since working in this industry, my knowledge about the film world has grown so much. Before, I didn’t know the difference between an AC and an AD, and now I do. It’s been really educational and amazing to see all the little pieces and details for everything.
What kind of challenges have you faced as a Muslim actress and how have you dealt with them? Being a Muslim Hijabi, it has been a journey. Luckily, I have dealt with the most amazing production crew who have sat down and have learned what I can and can’t do and what my religion/hijab means to me. They have definitely been incredible with it and they know I want to portray Muslims the right way, and I am truly blessed.
Have you faced any criticism since you’ve become more involved in this industry, and if so, how have you dealt with it? Shockingly, I have not had any backlash from anyone. I think everyone has been very supportive, and reason being, I think that they are because we don’t have anyone who is properly portraying Muslims in a positive light or in a proper way, so I think especially for the young kids who watch “Legacies”, it’s nice to see someone who they can relate to. So, I think I’ve gotten more love than anything else.
What’s the biggest project you’ve worked on so far, or one you’re most proud to have been a part of? The biggest project I’ve worked on would be “Legacies”. They are truly an amazing production and I have loved being there for the past three years.
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