EXCLUSIVE: Writers Guild of America West (WGAW) is looking to boost visibility and champion Middle Easter voices with the newly formed Middle Eastern Writers Committee (MEWC).
The new committee will help bolster Middle Eastern writers within the film and television industry, while continuing to celebrate and promote accurate portrayals of Middle Eastern characters across the media landcape. To kick things off, MEWC has set their first event highlighting Middle Eastern representation between WGA members and a panel of guests featuring Ramy co-creator and star Ramy Youssef. The virtual event will take place Febraury 24 at 7PM PT.
The formation of the committee stems from the release of the guild’s 2020 Inclusion Report, which showed that, while most major non-white groups were underrepresented in TV and film relative to their share of the U.S. population, Middle Eastern writers had “almost no representation at all.” A mere 0.3% of working screen and TV writers identified as Middle Eastern.
“That number really lit a fire under us to form the committee,” said MEWC co-chairs Paiman Kalayeh and Cameron Fay, who will co-host the inaugural event. “We’ve both been working as professional writers for over a decade now, and we’ve grown increasingly frustrated by two main things. One, the negative depiction of Middle Eastern characters in film and TV. And two, the historical lack of employment opportunities for Middle Eastern writers.”
“Anytime you can bring together groups and create community, you are planting seeds for projects that could happen later this year, next year, or maybe even in five or ten years,” said Ramy Youssef. “It takes a lot of seed planting for a show to become what it needs to be. It takes time, but what we’re building now will become the industry’s infrastructure in the next five to ten years. It’s all community.”
WGA Writers and co-founding MEWC members include Evan Mirzai, Shea Mirzai, Mano Agapion, Julian Kiani, Annie Wood, Abdi Nazemian, Brittany Sarkisian and 72 others. The committee is working to address visibility by building community among writers who identify as Middle Eastern, and providing a platform to engage with a broader network of professional writers. Launching the hire Middle Eastern hashtag #hireME is one step in building that community between the .3% of Middle Eastern writers and the remaining 99.7% of the industry.
For more details about the February 24 event click here.
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