I knew to dread a Trump presidency.
I didn’t know it would come so sharp, so fast, so . . . benignly tweetable:
As a Muslim American, it of course struck a terrible blow to my sense of safety and security in the country I call home. But more urgently, it intruded on my family’s plans for my mother, a permanent resident in need of life-contingent medical care, to finalize her move into the United States; she was due to arrive ten days into the ban.
Even though my mother is from Pakistan, a country not on the forsaken list -- yet -- I was concerned about her safe entry. HLS was detaining green card holders. Everything was in chaos.
But we persisted with the plan. What else could we do?
I was out shopping in preparation for her arrival with my husband when I heard about the protests at LAX. I urged him to take me back home so I could get my bandana and protein bar and head to the airport to join.
When I arrived, the signs and chants hit my gut instantly:
It suddenly felt so personal -- like every single human in that crowd was there for me, for my mother, for my community -- their community -- OUR community.
Unexpected, uncontrollable tears started streaming down my cheeks. I cried, chanting between sobs.
A middle aged woman noticed. She muscled through the thick crowd towards me and she pulled me into a strong, comforting hug. “It’s ok,” she said. “We’re here for you.” She squeezed me with love, pulled me out of the hug, smiled, and then turned around and continued chanting.
That was it.
I felt a renewed faith rise in me. There was more support for Muslims more than I knew. Support all around me. Support in the crowd.
A few days later, as I was pitching FORBIDDEN STEPS to another difficult private investor, it hit me like a brick.
The crowd -- YOU!
This project, a uniquely Muslim-American story of patriotism and the right to pursue the American dream, a project I’ve been working on for a decade, a project with a championed screenplay and award winning team that has been near impossible to fully fund via private investment because of its “difficult” themes, might find its champions here, with you.
Our team knows what we have is special, not because of the toils of a decade and the hundreds of hours of writing and thinking that have gone into it, or the various industry programs that have stamped it with approval, but because we are certain that a film like this just is not out there in the market.
So I ask you to empower us. Together we can tell a story that humanizes a faith and a people that have long been misrepresented.
Together we can celebrate the universals of humanity in its diverse multitude.
And whatever our beliefs, together we can believe in a nation and a world that is safe and welcoming for all kinds of dreams.
In pride and solidarity,
Writer & Director