Ramy Youssef (‘Ramy’) discusses bringing in Mahershala Ali for the show’s second season [WATCH]

Recent Emmy nominee, Ramy Youssef, is still in awe of the fact that his show “Ramy” was able to bring in two-time Oscar winner Mahershala Ali as an addition to the show’s second season. “He really ingratiated himself to every single person on the cast and everyone in the crew. Just a dream. You couldn’t write how well he gelled with us and how well he really felt like he was part of the fabric of the show,” explains Youssef in our recent webchat (watch the video above). But Youssef also understood that there was potential for this type of casting to fall flat on its face and illustrated that to Ali using another show as an analogy. “When he came initially, I told him, I was like, ‘Look, man, our blueprint here is this needs to be as seamless as Danny DeVito joining ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.’ You’re our Danny DeVito.’ And he took that to heart.”

Youssef scored Emmy nominations this year for Best Comedy Actor and Best Comedy Directing for the episode “Miakhalifa.mov.” “Ramy,” which premiered its second season on Hulu in May, centers on the titular character, who’s a Muslim-American in his late 20s trying to figure out his place in the world and how to reconcile his faith with the current landscape of his home country. In addition to acting in the show, Youssef also serves as a writer, director and showrunner. The show has been embraced by critics and this past January, Youssef picked up the Golden Globe for Best TV Comedy Actor.

Youssef also talked about what the show means for representation of underrepresented communities. “I think that really so much of what we look at in this show in terms of representation, it’s less about representation of a Muslim family, but more about representation of faith and the representation of a believing millennial.” He also describes the show as being very interested in the idea of faith and how it’s performed in people’s lives and connects that to where his character finds himself towards the end of the second season. “So much of where we put Ramy’s character throughout the season and certainly by the end is we want to put him at a crossroads where he really has to face what does he actually believe and what’s coming from his ego?”

He also discussed Steve Way, his co-star and real-life friend, and whether or not he’s as big a jerk as his character is on the program. “No, he certainly has fun doing it on the show, but he is definitely one of the most thoughtful, sweetest people I know.” Youssef elaborates that while Steve is unfiltered in real-life, that aspect is certainly leaned in to on the show. He also clarifies that Steve holds a special place on the show because he’s one of the only people who calls Ramy out and looks at Ramy’s ego as opposed to his good intentions. “I think Steve really speaks to that subconscious and I think that they both see each other in a way that no one else sees the other. It’s probably the most intimate relationship on the show.”

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