AZITA GHANIZADA

 

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Azita, a political refugee, arrived in Hollywood with an incredible story of cultural backlash. She and her family fled Afghanistan to the United States and gained asylum in Virginia to escape the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

Having learned English watching TV, Azita had long dreamed of becoming an actress but her strict cultural upbringing prevented her from ever speaking her truth. Upon graduating from University, she bought a one-way ticket to Hollywood and never looked back. She quickly began appearing on several hit TV shows, and alongside some of Hollywood’s biggest talents. Soon, she became the first Afghan-American to lead a TV series in the USA. Refusing to play into Hollywood tropes for actors of Middle Eastern and South Asian decent on a regular basis, Azita’s path soon revealed that in order to see real movement and true unbiased representation for her community, she would have to disrupt Hollywood from the inside. In 2016, she founded MENA Arts Advocacy Coalition (MAAC) to advocate and educate within the entertainment industry on behalf of Middle Eastern North African (MENA) performers, and challenge the unnecessary stereotypes MENA performers endure. In 2017, she successfully lobbied SAG-AFTRA to include Middle Eastern North African (MENA) as its own diverse casting category. The first time in 37 years a new diversity category has been introduced into the TV/Theatrical contracts in Hollywood. In 2018, MAAC presented the first-ever study of Middle Eastern and North African performers on TV highlighting the lack of representation for MENA on PrimeTime TV, titled “Terrorists & Tyrants”. She serves as an Ambassador to Millions of Conversations and a former Global Ambassador to Women for Women. She is an outspoken advocate for women in Afghanistan and actively speaks out on representation and inclusion issues in the media, in business environments and on industry panels.

Social:

Instagram: @azitagram

Twitter: @Azitaghanizada


 
Disruptor Awards