A Muslim veteran of Hollywood has launched a production company with the hopes of creating more nuanced and positive portrayals of Muslims in film and television.
The company, Chariot Entertainment, has been started by Ahmos Hassan, who has been in the entertainment industry for over 20 years. He told The Hollywood Reporter that the company’s focus will be “making content featuring Muslim characters that go beyond Hollywood’s go-to portrayals of terrorists and taxi drivers.”
As the New York Times pointed out last year, Muslim characters who aren’t terrorists or dealing with terrorism in some way are rare in the entertainment industry. Chariot plans to produce both comedy and drama projects.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Chariot–which aims to feature Muslim characters and storylines in a “positive but not flawless light”– has been in the works for about a year. By that point, then-presidential candidate Donald Trump was already spreading Islamophobic rhetoric on the campaign trail.
Hassan told THR he would have started the company whether Trump won or lost the presidency.
“I’ve always wanted to develop my own material, but it wasn’t commercially viable. [Muslim representation] just didn’t matter,” Hassan said. “Now it does, not just to the industry, but to the American audience.”
Knowing the risks of such a venture given the number of anti-Muslim incidents around the country, an administration that’s fought to ban immigrants from majority-Muslim countries, and a president who has been silent on the recent attacks against Muslims, Hassan teamed up with lawyer and friend David Stern.
Stern specifically wrote in the company’s legal documents for investors that the company “cannot predict whether your investment in the Company might later be construed as ‘Un-American’ activity by certain elements of our government or citizenry,” as quoted by The Hollywood Reporter.
The company already has some projects in the pipeline, including three feature films and three TV series, according to The Hollywood Reporter.