After making her Hollywood debut in Ms. Marvel, Mehwish Hayat has been named alongside Netflix’s Never Have I Ever director Lena Khan as the first patron of charity UK Muslim Film (UKMF) — an organisation that works to change perspectives by supporting underrepresented talent and voice both on and off screen, advising how to authentically represent Muslims.
On Thursday, Hayat took to Instagram and shared the news with her followers. “So proud to have been made a patron of UK Muslim Film. The first step towards ‘changing the script’,” she wrote.
The actor who has made a name for herself with films like Actor in law, Chhalawa and London Nahi Jaunga and has widely spoken about human rights as well as the representation of Muslims in the mainstream media. Speaking to Variety, the actor said, “Representation of Muslims on-screen is something that I have been tirelessly working to highlight for the past few years. Misrepresentation has done untold damage to us and I sincerely believe has fuelled the rise of Islamophobia.”
With UKMF, the actor is looking forward to working with the industry to make sure the way “Muslims are portrayed onscreen is fair if not positive”.
“It is equally incumbent on us as Muslims to be telling our own stories. I am excited that UKMF will be supporting emerging Muslim talent and helping them get their work to larger audiences,” Hayat added.
According to the site, UKMF will be hosting a cinema pop-up on August 13 in Edgbaston, UK to celebrate Khan’s work as director of Disney original Flora & Ulysses.
Khan told Variety, “Representation in films and television literally changes our cultural landscape — for better or worse. It impacts policy, how we see people, how we operate with each other. And it’s not that hard to do. I hope we can continue to expand the scope and quality of how our fellow humans are seen on screen, and enjoy the ride and the stories along the way.”
Sajid Varda, who established UKMF and the upcoming first Muslim International Film Festival, worked closely with and acted in Khan’s The Tiger Hunter along with Danny Pudi, Jon Heder, Rizwan Manji, Iqbal Theba, Karen David, Samuel Page of The Bold Type and Kevin Pollak.
Varda also told the publication that they have a great deal of work ahead of them in order to change the perception about Muslims within the media and with the addition of Hayat and Khan on board as part of the UKMF team they are hopeful that together they can “change the script.”