Malala addresses Hollywood’s lack of Muslim representation in award’s speech

·2-min read

Malala Yousafzai has used her speech at a celebratory US women’s event to address the lack of Muslim representation in Hollywood films.

The campaigner and activist, 25, said the response of industry executives towards commissioning projects by minority creatives felt like being told “we just don’t belong here”.

Yousafzai, is one of this year’s honourees at US outlet Variety’s Power of Women event, which took place in Los Angeles on Wednesday.

It comes just over a week before the 10-year anniversary of the Talban’s assassination attempt on her when she was 15.

Other women being honoured at the Variety awards include Hillary Clinton and Chelsea Clinton, Elizabeth Olsen, Oprah Winfrey, and the Duchess of Sussex.

“In the last year I have learnt a lot, and much of it was not surprising,” Yousafzai told audiences at the event.

“I learned that Asian people like me make up less than 4% of leads in Hollywood films.

“Muslims are 25% of the population, but only 1% of characters in popular TV series.”

“Behind the camera, the statistics for black and brown creators are even worse.”

She went on to say: “I know that the executives have passed on dozens of quality, equally amazing projects because they thought that the characters or their creators were too young, too Brown, too foreign, too poor.

Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games – Opening Ceremony
The activist said industry executives’ attitudes towards commissioning projects by minority creatives felt like being told ‘we don’t belong here’ (PA)

“Sometimes it feels like they’re saying we just don’t belong here.”

All of the honourees, Yousafzai included, will feature on the magazine cover of Variety’s Power of Women special edition.

In the cover interview for the magazine, she previously told Variety that change was needed.

“You’re often told in Hollywood, implicitly or explicitly, that the characters are too young, too brown or too Muslim, or that if one show about a person of colour is made, then that’s it — you don’t need to make another one,” she said.

“That needs to change.”