About MAAC

 
 

What is MENA?

MENA, is an acronym for the Middle Eastern, North African region of countries ranging from Egypt to Afghanistan and all the wonderful places in between. What is MENASA? MENASA, includes the regions above and adds Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.  MAAC (MENA Arts Advocacy Coalition) is led by actors for actors, and is assisted by wide reaching, well established organizations nationwide. And is the first coalition built to speak out specifically for Middle Eastern, North African performers rights and visibility. An area long overlooked, and increasingly overdramatized.  We, at MAAC, believe as actors, our images and stories are often the first and only portrayals of Middle Eastern North African people being sent into the mainstream. The hope of MAAC is to engage our unions, studios, networks, producers, and filmmakers to provide them with a wealth of resources from a pool of diverse artists, as well as a national support system from our advisory council to help build a more balanced and positive representations of MENA people.

 

Our Team

Azita Ghanizada, Founder
Amir Talai, Member
Assaf Cohen, Member
Amin El-Gamal, Member

 

What We Do

MENA Arts Advocacy Coalition (MAAC) seeks recognized status for Middle Eastern, North African performers in Hollywood.

Founded by Azita Ghanizada, a MENASA actress in the United States. MAAC began when she was informed she was considered caucasian by a major Television network. She realized that in the new world of diversity and inclusion, an entire region of the world was being erased. It became no longer palatable to exist in in Hollywood without a coalition that advocated for MENA Actors and the increasing issues surrounding their images. She began reaching out to fellow MENA performers, Amir Talai, Assaf Cohen and Amin El-Gamal.   Together they successfully began collecting their stories, gathering crucial data and speaking directly to their Unions leadership and organically MAAC was created. MAAC is led by actors for actors, and is assisted by wide-reaching, well established organizations nationwide. MAAC believes as actors, our images and stories are often the first and only portrayals of Middle Eastern, North African, South Asian people being sent into the mainstream. The hope of MAAC is to engage our Unions, Studios, Networks, Producers and FilmMakers to provide them with a wealth of resources from our pool of diverse artists, as well as a national support system from our advisory council to help build a more balanced and positive MENA universe.

Our Goals

  • Industry wide education on the MAAC success of having MENA added to the Casting Diversity Report in SAG-AFTRA.  Creating a space for the MENA community to be included in diverse hiring practices. Previous inclusion in the Caucasian category, The not only created an uptick in dangerous hiring practice,  a lack of fair representation, but also was a complete erasure of MENA in the subject of inclusive hiring practice.
  • To inform the Entertainment communities on the new language now built into the industry and how to actively begin to create more fair and balanced portrayals of  MENA in TV.
  • To eliminate grossly stereotypical and fetishized roles for MENASA performers since diverse hiring practices became the industry standard.   
  • To remove all barriers of misinformation of the MENA, the diverse region of the world that spans across approximately 22 countries; includes almost half a billion people; and embodies a variety of religions,  and of MENA citizens here in American.
  • To inform and educate the Industry at large of the dangerous Islamaphobic impact unfair representation has had.  
  • To work hand in hand with the Casting Society of America to implement the new Casting language into all Breakdowns.
  • Continue to actively engage all unions SAG-AFTRA, WGA, DGA, PGA on our mission and coalesce the MENASA communities within each to seek MENASA status and begin inclusion committees and educational practices within each union.
  • To be a resource for the industry at large on subjects regarding the writing of, the portrayal of characters and stories rooted in the MENASA regions of the world.
  • To eradicate the fear and shame associated with being of MENA background.. Without visible heroes from this region - along with poor representation in Hollywood and the current political climate many MENA people have become ashamed or scared to identify as MENA.
  • To be included in the discussions on the importance of representations.