Of course, celebrities have a long history of political activism. That is no surprise. The big surprise is that now more celebrities are speaking up to defend the Muslim-American community. From public statements by celebrities like Ashton Kutcher and Julia Louis-Dreyfus, to those who attended protests at airports like Ellen Page, Tim Robbins and Amy Schumer, to the Guilds denouncing the anti-immigration policy in their statements.
"I must say, the exponentially increased support feels good and it is very much appreciated," stated Sue Obeidi, Director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council’s Hollywood Bureau (MPAC), who has worked with industry executives to reduce stereotyped depictions of Islam and Muslims. "We need to work together to have a collective impact on the narrative because portraying better, authentic and accurate stories is not “doing us a favor” — it is simply good business for the industry to represent what the real world looks like."
So why does it feel so good right now for the industry to defend and regard Muslims with such terms of inclusion? Like other vulnerable communities — African-American, Hispanic and others, in general, Muslims have not been authentically and accurately portrayed in film and television. When we were “humanized” in stories, it was under the pretense of “tolerance.” The Executive Order created a sense of acceptance, respect and inclusion of Muslims in America. When your're playing on the same team, comraderie quickly follows.
At this year's Academy Awards, Mahershala Ali became first Muslim actor to win an Oscar. Muslim entertainers such as Hasan Minhaj (“The Daily Show”), Aziz Ansari (“Master of None”), Riz Ahmed (“The Night Of”), and Yasmine Al Massri (“Quantico”) are also thriving in Hollywood.
"Because Muslims are standing on the shoulders of giants in other marginalized communities, the door has already been cracked open for us, I think the process of amplifying our voices will be faster," noted Obeidi. " We should start “normalizing” Muslim characters and work together to create stories that reflect what America really looks like, to understand each other and to save the soul of America, together."