webRNS Azhar Usman4

On hit shows ‘Ramy’ and ‘Mo,’ Azhar Usman adds nuance about Islam (and joy) to Hollywood

Azhar Usman. Photo by Sasha Shemirani ( Interfaith America ) — If you watch the credits roll on some recent TV shows, you'll see one name popping up again and again: Azhar Usman. You can't help but notice another thing these recent hits for Netflix, Hulu and Disney Plus have in common: They are shifting Hollywood's narrative American Muslims. “Mo” follows a Palestinian American refugee in Houston. “Ms. Marvel” is about a teenage Muslim superhero. “Ramy” is the semi-autobiographical by Ramy Youssef that has won Golden Globe and Peabody awards. Usman, a lawyer-turned-comedian from Skokie, Illinois, rose to fame two decades ago with the “Allah Made Me Funny” comedy tour before serving as a adviser and co-writer on the show “Ramy” and a writer on “Mo,” another Netflix show anchored by Usman's erstwhile touring partner, Mo Amer. Daily religion news, straight to your inbox. Subscribe today. Usman's credits rest atop a decades-long commitment to build a more nuanced understanding of Islam and American Muslims for American audiences. Earlier in his career, Usman co-founded a foundation dedicated to Islamic spirituality and scholarship, inspired by the teachings of Umar Abd-Allah . Usman considers himself a comedian first, but it's clear that he's helping shape the view of Muslim spirituality in Hollywood. In a recent conversation with Silma Suba and Monique Parsons of Interfaith America Magazine, it's also clear he's only getting started. The conversation has been edited for length. Comedian Azhar Usman performs at The Paper Machete on […]

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