Egyptian-American comedian Ramy Youssef heads inaugural event of USA's Middle Eastern Writers Committee

Ahram Online , Wednesday 24 Feb 2021

The committee is formed by the Writers Guild of America West with the aim to boost Middle Eastern writers within the film and television industry in the United States and abroad

Ramy Youssef
Ramy Youssef (Photo: AFP)

The Writers Guild of America West (WGAW) will launch the newly formed Middle Eastern Writers Committee (MEWC) with a panel discussion taking place online on 24 February.

The discussion will be headed by Egyptian-American comedian Ramy Youssef, the co-creator and star of the award-winning television series Ramy, a semi-biographical series revolving around the titular character.

The mission of the MEWC is “to boost visibility and employment of Middle Eastern writers within the film and television industry, while celebrating and promoting accurate portrayals of Middle Eastern characters in all areas of media. [Committee members] also serve as an expert resource for productions on issues related to the vast and diverse Middle Eastern community in the United States and abroad,” reads the MEWC’s press release.

The MEWC was formed as a result of the WGAW’s 2020 annual Inclusion Report, which called attention to the lack of inclusion and equity in the entertainment industry.

“When the data is broken down by major ethnicities, other disparities become evident, with Latinx, Black, and Asian-American Pacific Islander screenwriters having less representation relative to their share of the overall U.S. population, and Native/Indigenous and Middle Eastern screenwriters having almost no representation at all,” the report reads, adding that Middle East screenwriters make 0.6 percent (men) and 0.3 percent (Women) of the whole industry. Data is based on the Inclusion Report, derived from the 1,831 screenwriters employed in 2019.

“Among individual ethnic groups, Latinx, Black, A.A.P.I., Native/Indigenous, and Middle Easter writers all received a smaller percentage of script assignments relative to their share of T.V. employment, though this divergence was particularly pronounced for Black writers.”

The rising star of the US television industry, Ramy Youssef, was born in New York City to Egyptian parents, and raised in a Muslim household.

He graduated from the political science and economics department of Rutgers University in Newark; however, it was during his studies that he enrolled in the performing arts school, William Esper Studio.

He made his acting debut in the main role of a sitcom titled See Dad Run (2012-2019). While working on the sitcom, Youssef was also cast in the American comedy film Why Him? (2016) and Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot (2018).

His television series, Ramy, debuted on Hulu in 2019.

The show is a semi-biographical series that revolves around Ramy, a millennial first-generation Muslim American born to immigrant parents in the USA. The series won several awards as well, such as the Peabody Award, the Audience Award at the SXSW Film Festival, and the Ruderman Family Foundation Seal of Authentic Representation.  

Youssef was nominated for the 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards in the category of Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series - Musical or Comedy. The winners will be revealed on 28 February.

Meanwhile, Youssef is also awaiting the results of the 26th Critics’ Choice Awards, which will be revealed in early March. He has been nominated for the Best Actor in a Comedy Series award, while his show, Ramy, is competing for the Best Comedy Series award.

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