CHANGING THE WORLD, ONE MOVIE AT A TIME
Award-winning filmmaker Samah Safi Bayazid is the creator of many ambitious and successful films. She is touching hearts not only through her films, but also through her talks as an advocate speaker for Muslims in the Western media , touching on justice, and women and youth empowerment. This inspiring humanitarian also manages to catch the eye with her elegant style. This month we had the chance to have a long chat with Bayazid to learn the details of her journey. By OZGUR GOZLER Photographed by UMIT TAYLAN
If you were to look for a perfect spokeswoman for Muslim women around the world, then Samah Safi Bayazid would definitely be one of the ideal choices. Growing up in Amman in the 90s and now living in Washington, DC, as a Muslim woman she knows very well both how it is to live in conservative Muslim cultural surroundings, as well as how it feels to be exposed to bias against Muslims, which in some ways is part of living as a minority in a Western country. Since childhood, she’s always been determined to be an independent woman, which is how she constructed her life journey, and through her successful marriage, she is very familiar with the work involved with being in a true partnership as well.
As an award-winning, influential hijabi female filmmaker, she’s a great example of the value of going after your dreams. And when it comes to our magazine’s favorite topic, modest fashion, with her elegant and classy style (as well as natural beauty), she is definitely one of the women to be looked up to. But above all, her films are a consistent, dedicated force which provide an authentic representation of Muslims in the Western media, and also feature themes of women’s empowerment and justice. All this makes her a great advocate speaker for Muslims, especially women.
Samah has been invited to give talks at many prestigious universities, countries like the USA and UK, Turkey, Indonesia, and Malaysia, and she’s also given a TEDx talk in which she underlined the importance of building bridges between cultures to strengthen mutual understanding. Her varied film projects, which she realizes side by side with her husband Muhammad Bayazid, focus on delicate subjects like Islamophobia, war, love, Islam itself, social tragedies, women, and children, each project done with an emphasis on fostering empathy and humanitarianism.
The Bayazids have a film production company called LightArts Productions, which is responsible for many impressive projects, one of them being the award-winning Inspiration, the first American drama series that shows the morals of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) through a dramatic plot. And they have many other exciting projects in the works. Samah Safi Bayazid has a lot to tell, and is a very busy woman, which is why we are grateful for the time she shared with us. Let’s get to know this awesome woman better!
We know that you grew up in Jordan then you moved to the United States, where you studied, and that Washington, DC is where you still live and work. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood, in terms of what kind of cultural environment you grew up in?
I grew up in a big family. I was one of seven kids, right in the middle. My parents were kind and educated, and so loving and encouraging. They supported me in every possible way. They listened to me, and they gave me the space to try and explore. They even attended every play in my school, every small concert. However, my cultural surroundings were very conservative back in the 90s in Amman. As a little girl, I grew up aware of all the expectations and limitations I would be facing because I am a female. Yet, I was a big dreamer. My imagination had no limits. I was a very confident little girl, and I had no fear of public speaking, even in front of the whole school. I sang and performed for years in the school theater. When I was little, I never dreamed of wearing a white wedding dress or having children. I dreamed of only one thing: becoming a strong independent woman when I grew up. I wanted to be a TV presenter.
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