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Discussion: On Rami Malek's Emmy

9:45 AM


Most of us loved Empire and How to Get Away With Murder. We loved that these shows had people of color as lead actors and we loved that these shows dealt with real topics.

It goes without saying that these shows diversified Hollywood. Viola Davis has won several Emmys for her work and Taraji P. Henson has won a Golden Globe, amongst other notable awards.

But now we have Mr. Robot. We have Rami Malek, an American-Egyptian actor who won an Emmy. We have Sam Esmail, an American-Egyptian screenwriter who created Mr. Robot which won an Golden Globe.

We finally have proper representation for American-Egyptians, or any Arabic speaking American for that matter, in the media.

Here's why this is a milestone. Time and time again, Arab-Americans have only seen themselves being portrayed as villains, terrorists to be exact, in the media. Time and time again, Arab-Americans have seen actors of different ethnicities play characters that are meant to be Arab. We have never really seen our own play a role that doesn't make us look bad. And that affects us in the most negative way possible. It's not just about the fact that we are under-represented. It's about the fact that what little representation we got villianized us. It sent a message across nations that Arabs were violent people, that we were inhumane. True, this representation was so scarce that the negativity probably couldn't affect us in the grand scheme of things. But with the events that have been going on in the world, and the already skewed impression that these events gives of us, these characters send a subliminal message that confirms that "Yes, what you thought was right. Arabs are terrorists".

So now that we have an American-Egyptian screenwriter who created a show that chose to cast another American-Egyptian as the lead role, and to include a character that wears hijab on top of that is a huge leap in the topic of proper representation in the media. The fact that these two men are so vocal about the fact that they are Egyptian, the fact that Rami Malek mentioned the reality of his family being immigrants, and that Sam Esmail said 'thank you' in Arabic, that they are not sweeping their identity under the rug, is so tremendously important and thoroughly appreciated.

And now that Hollywood has acknowledged their accomplishments, we are another step closer to diversifying the predominantly white media.

Congrats to Rami Malek for being the first minority actor in 18 years to win an Emmy.

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2 comments

  1. Ok, it's time I start watching Mr. Robot. I have put it off far too long! I fell in love with Rami Malek because everyone kept talking about him on Twitter and sharing pictures of him. :D
    Seeing Mr. Robot win these awards is very encouraging and makes me hopeful for the future of TV being more inclusive without it having to be seen as an issue or a political act. I just want to watch TV that is as diverse as our American society!

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    1. You should! And I completely agree with you on the topic of inclusion in TV without it being seen as a political act. It's so shocking that that hasn't been happening with these particular people to be honest.

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