Malala has long been known for her global activism, but now she is looking to America, to Hollywood.
speaking on wednesday Variety’s The Power of Women Malala Yousafzai, who became an activist after being shot by the Taliban, criticized Hollywood for its lack of representation of Muslims and other Asian people. She intends to change that.
“I don’t expect Hollywood to change because it’s the right thing to do, or even because it’s good for business. I want them to do it because they are artists and they know that art belongs to everyone,” said Malala. “If you’re an artist who has heard your story, or been told that you’re too young, that you don’t have the right background, then come sit at my table and let’s work together.”
But the Nobel laureate and education activist is not just seeking representation, she said Wednesday.
“For me, representation is just a consolation prize,” he said. “I want our shows and our friends to be mainstream.”
Last year, Malala inked a multi-year partnership with Apple to develop original programming for its Apple TV+ streaming service. Its offer includes dramas, comedies, documentaries, animation and children’s series, all through its production company Extracurricular.
The first slate of those projects is currently in development on the streaming service, she told Variety.
“We have so many young and diverse roles on television. Just watch ‘Never Have’, ‘Sex Education’, ‘Ms Marvel’ and ‘Coda’ won best picture. All of that is true and I am so grateful for every opportunity to see new faces and hear new stories,” Malala said on Wednesday. “But for each one I just mentioned, I know that executives have spent [on] dozens of equally amazing quality projects because they thought the characters or creators were too young, too dark, too foreign, too poor.”
Although 25% of the world’s population is Muslim, a study published in 2022 found that Muslims make up only 1% of speaking characters on television.
Another report, published in 2021, found that Asian and Pacific Islander female characters are more likely to be objectified on screen than female characters of any other race.
“A lot of my friends are young women of color,” Malala told the audience of Hollywood executives and creatives. “We’re watching ‘Ted Lasso,’ ‘Succession,’ ‘The Crown,’ everything. So ask yourself, if we can love these stories, what makes you think people won’t be interested in ours?