Malala Yousafzai lambasts Hollywood's lack of Muslim representation

Campaigner tells US women's event in Los Angeles that minority creatives feel they 'don't belong here'

Ms Yousafzai was one of those honoured at 'Variety' magazine's Power of Women event. AP
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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”.

Ms Yousafzai was one of those honoured at Variety magazine's Power of Women event in Los Angeles on Wednesday just over a week before the 10-year anniversary of the assassination attempt on her by a Pakistani branch of the Taliban when she was 15.

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

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

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

“Muslims are 25 per cent of the population, but only 1 per cent 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.

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

All of those honoured, Ms 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.”

Updated: September 30, 2022, 11:47 AM
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