for The Washington Post on Feb. 4, 2011
LOS ANGELES -- After years of watching Muslims portrayed as terrorists in mainstream TV and movies, an advocacy group hopes to change that image by grooming a crop of aspiring Muslim screenwriters who can bring their stories - and perspective - to Hollywood.
The Muslim Public Affairs Council is hosting a series of workshops taught by Emmy-winning and Oscar-nominated veterans over the next month, an initiative that builds on the group's outreach for a more representative picture of Muslim-Americans on the screen.
The workshops are the natural evolution of MPAC's efforts to lobby TV networks and movie studios from the outside, and they fit into a small, but growing, movement to get more Muslim-Americans behind the cameras.
MPAC dubbed its effort the Hollywood Bureau, while Unity Productions Foundation recently started a similar project called Muslims on Screen and Television. Other nonprofit arts foundations, such as the Levantine Cultural Center and Film Independent, have joined forces by planning networking events for Muslim actors and training and mentoring young filmmakers.
"The idea is to really give Muslims an avenue to tell our stories. It's as simple as that. There's a curiosity about Islam and a curiosity about who Muslims are - and a lot of the fear that we're seeing comes from only hearing one story or these constant negative stories," said Deana Nassar, MPAC's Hollywood liaison.
Read more: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/02/02/AR2011020203164.html?wprss=rss_religion/wires