The Top Muslim Women Milestones of the Decade

3. Muslim Actresses Playing Muslim Roles? Iconic. 

As a young woman who watches a lot of TV shows, I always felt like our community was misrepresented. Indeed, over the years we saw a few Muslim characters appear on our TVs but those “Muslims” were interpreted by, for the most part, actresses who did not identify as Muslim. Plus, they never really reflected our diverse realities.

As this decade ends, we have seen a global shift when it comes to the representation of Muslim women on-screen. For me, this started with the iconic character, Sana Bakkoush, interpreted by Iman Meskini on the Norwegian TV show, “Skam.” Sana is portrayed as a young hijabi practicing her religion around non-Muslim friends. Her experiences are actually very close to what it is like to be a Muslim hijabi in Europe since Iman Meskini helped in the writing process.

As “Skam” became bigger and bigger, European remakes became more and more common. As a result, we were introduced to two more Muslim actresses: Tua El Fawwal in Germany, and Hajar Brown in Spain. These characters are inspiring to young Muslim women because they show what living in Europe with a hijab at a young age is like. Their storylines offer advice on how to talk to your friends about the hijab, how to react to Islamophobia, and most importantly, how to deal with your identity without losing it in the process. Having Muslim actresses involved in such a way — and most importantly in shows that are accessible to non-Muslims — result in open conversations which is exactly what the community needs these days: a voice to destroy prejudice.

No doubt we still have a long way to go, but having actresses who identify as Muslim play iconic Muslim characters is a highlight of the decade for sure. From Iman Meskini in Norway to Sophia Taylor Ali of “Grey’s Anatomy,” we love the representation!

—As told by Sarah Ferreira