Malala plans to change Hollywood from within


Malala has long been known for her global activism, but now she’s turning her sights stateside to Hollywood.

At Variety’s Power of Women event on Wednesday, Malala Yousafzai, who became an activist after being shot by the Taliban, called out Hollywood for its lack of representation of Muslims and other Asian people. He plans to change that.

“I don’t expect Hollywood to change because it’s the right thing to do, or because it’s good for business. I want it because you are artists and you know that art is for everyone,” said Malala. “If you’re an artist who’s heard your story, or if you’ve been told you’re too young, you don’t have the right background, sit down at my table and let’s work.”

But the Nobel laureate and education activist isn’t just looking for representation, she said Wednesday.

“For me, representation is just a consolation prize,” he said. “I want our shows and our friends to dominate.”

Last year, Malala entered into a multi-year partnership with Apple to develop original programming for its Apple TV+ streaming service. Its offerings include dramas, comedies, documentaries, animations and children’s series through its production company Extracurricular.

The first slate of such projects is in development on the streaming service, he told Variety.

“We have so many young and diverse roles on television. Just look at ‘Never Have I Ever’, ‘Sex Education’, ‘Ms Marvel’ and ‘Coda’ was the best movie. All of that is true and I am so grateful for every opportunity to see new faces and hear new stories,” Malala said on Wednesday. “But for each one I just mentioned, I know the management has passed [on] dozens of quality projects, equally amazing, because they thought the characters or creators were too young, too brown, too foreign, too poor.”

Although 25% of the world’s population is Muslim, a study published in 2022 found that Muslims make up just 1% of TV characters.

Another report published in 2021 found that Asian and Pacific Islander female characters are more likely to be objectified on screen than female characters of any other race.

“Many of my friends are young women of color,” Malala told an audience of Hollywood directors and creators. “We’re watching ‘Ted Lasso,’ ‘Succession,’ ‘The Crown,’ everything. So ask yourself, if we love these stories, what makes you think people won’t be interested in ours?