Launching New Muslim Artists & Creative Voices at Hollywood Summit

June 27, 2014

This week, 14 young American Muslims from all around the country spent four whirlwind days in Los Angeles for our 4th annual Young Leaders Hollywood Summit. This talented group of aspiring artists, filmmakers, actors and content creators had the priceless opportunity to meet with industry giants as well as successful American Muslims working in the industry, and build their own network to support one another as they launch their careers.

Flying in from places as far as Texas, Ohio and New York, summit delegates were given an insider’s look and hands-on experience in the entertainment industry. MPAC kicked the summit off by taking the delegates to an exclusive screening of “Camp X-Ray,” a new independent film that MPAC helped consult on about the inhumane conditions at Guantanamo Bay, starring “Twilight” actress Kristen Stewart.

They had a one-of-a-kind opportunity to meet and receive career advice from successful artists as well as some of the top decision makers in Hollywood, including screenwriters Sameer Asad Gardezi and Nizar Wattad, executives at CBS Television and Fox Studios, Teakwood Lane Productions, Sunset Gower Studios, the Creative Artists Agency (CAA), YouTube Space LA, and the Producers Guild of America, and Writers Guilds of America West.

As delegate Akram Shibly said at the end of the Summit:

The Hollywood Summit was a turning point in my life. As a Muslim trying to make it in the film industry, it’s easy to feel like you’re alone going up against all odds. MPAC has shown me that that is the furthest thing from the truth by bringing likeminded Muslims together to support their dreams and aspirations… 

The experience allowed us to engage with Muslim screenwriters who showed us their path to success and what it means to maintain your faith in Hollywood, affirming the idea that it is possible to have the best of both worlds. We were given opportunities unimaginable to people at our stage in their careers as MPAC brought us to sit in conference rooms with executives from several major studios to learn from the top what it takes to make it there.

Doors like these remain closed to most people but the Summit walked us right through them. Having done so I am now inspired to push harder to reach levels I once thought were unattainable. To top it off I no longer have to go it alone since I have gained friends through the summit that will walk with me along the way.

Muhammad Monk, a delegate from Austin, TX, shared how energized he was by the experience:

“I am going home with more inspiration to write than ever. In the few hours since the end of the summit, I have already added 5 pages to the pilot I'm working on and have been networking exceedingly with other young people trying to break into the industry. I am more motivated than ever to come back to L.A. permanently soon and start working towards landing my dream job.”

MPAC’s Young Leaders Summits provide American Muslim college and graduate students with the rare opportunity to get an insider look at the nerve centers of policy and public opinion, Washington, DC and Hollywood, develop their leadership and networking skills, and build a network of like-minded American Muslims.

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