Five Muslim Actors to Watch

The study analyzed over 200 TV series that aired between 2018 and 2019 and found that despite accounting for 25% of the world’s population, Muslims were only 1% of speaking characters. Here are five up and coming actors putting a dent in that number

Five Muslim Actors to Watch

According to a 2019 University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism media study, Muslims are severely underrepresented on television – and when they are represented, they’re depicted as shallow stereotypes. The study analyzed over 200 TV series that aired between 2018 and 2019 and found that despite accounting for 25% of the world’s population, Muslims were only 1% of speaking characters. Here are five up and coming actors putting a dent in that number. 

Dominic Rains

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Dominic Rains, born Amin Nazemzadeh, is an Iranian American actor best known for his roles in independent films such as the Muslim Punk novel adaptation “The Taqwacores” (2010) and “A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night” (2014), and for his role as Dr. Crockett Marcel on “Chicago Med” (introduced in season 5). He also appeared as Kasius, the main antagonist of the fifth season of Marvel’s “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.Rains began acting when he appeared in the made for TV movie “Saving Jessica Lynch” in 2003. He later appeared in 2006 in the popular TV movie “Flight 93.” He’s been grinding out TV roles for two decades now, and deserves a leading role in a big studio production next. 

Aiysha Hart

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Aiysha Hart is a British Saudi actress and screenwriter best known for playing Detective Sergeant Sam Railston in the ongoing hit BBC drama series “Line of Duty.” She memorably appeared in Channel 4’s six-episode Muslim Punk series, “We Are Lady Parts,” directed by Nida Manzoor. She’s appeared in quite a few horror and dark fantasy themed shows and movies, such as the indie horror film “Honour” and the adaption of “A Discovery of Witches.” Her debut was in the 2014 movie “Djinn.”

Bilal Baig

Bilal Baig is a Canadian writer and actor, most noted for their play “Acha Bacha” and television series “Sort Of.” “Acha Bacha” centers on a nonbinary Pakistani Canadian person struggling to reconcile their gender with their Muslim upbringing, and was a joint production by Theatre Passe Muraille and Buddies in Bad Times in 2018. Baig is the co-creator, co-writer and star of “Sort Of,” a CBC Television comedy series centering on similar autobiographical themes around a genderfluid character. Baig is the first queer South Asian Muslim actor to lead a Canadian primetime television series, and hopefully we will be seeing them in something major very soon. 

Hamza Haq

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Hamza Haq is a Canadian actor of Pakistani descent who has gained international recognition for his leading role in the NBC television series “Transplant.” Haq’s work includes the television series “Quantico,” and the limited series “The Indian Detective.” In 2019 he received the Star award from the Mosaic International South Asian Film Festival, and in 2023 he won the award for Best Lead Performer, Drama Series for his role in “Transplant” at the Canadian Screen Awards. In 2020, he also had a supporting role in Philippe Falardeau’s film “My Salinger Year.”

Ayisha Issa

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Ayisha Issa is a Canadian actress and martial arts practitioner born in Montreal, Quebec. She has played a number of roles in both English- and French-language television series and films, such as “Dark Matter,” “Unité 9” and “Brick Mansions.” She won the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation World Championships twice, once in 2010 as a white belt, and again in 2014 as a blue belt; she currently holds the rank of brown belt and owns a dojo in Toronto. In 2022, she won the Canadian Screen Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series at the tenth Canadian Screen Awards for her regular role as Dr. June Curtis in “Transplant.”


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