“They really gave her so much life and that to me made me know that it would be different,” reveals actress Dina Shihabi in an exclusive interview with Gold Derby (watch the video above) about her “Jack Ryan” character created by Carlton Cuse and Graham Roland. For her performance as terrorist’s wife Hanin Ali, Shihabi received a Critics’ Choice Award nomination for Best Drama Supporting Actress and she credits her single-season role for opening up opportunities, noting that “it feels really good to be on the path and not trying to jump on the path.” The Amazon Prime program stars John Krasinski and Wendell Pierce.
Shihabi explains, “Before ‘Jack Ryan,’ the roles I would get were probably only going to be Arab roles because I speak the language and that’s what people knew me as.” Other than Sayid Jarrah as played by Naveen Andrews on “Lost” (on which Cuse and Roland first collaborated), Shihabi reflects on Hollywood portrayals of Arabs as she was growing up in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, “I don’t really have a memory of a[n Arab] character that was that important to a story and that was daunting because there’s always this feeling when you don’t see yourself represented on screen, you don’t really know if you belong there and so, moving across the world and becoming an actor, you have this worry that you don’t know if you can be accepted for who you are.”
She is currently filming the second season of “Altered Carbon” in Vancouver and finds it “really cool” that “there’s no mention” of her character’s ethnic background. She concludes, “One you prove yourself as an actor, that has an impact on people trusting you with other roles too. It’s not just about the ethnicity thing; it’s about: Can you really bring this person to life? And if you really honor that with any role that you do, it has a ripple effect.”
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