About me

I was born a secret, smuggled to Chicago under a fur coat to secretly obtain American citizenship, to be born with the rights and privileges my father believed his children deserved. I was also born a shadow, my twin the shining star, the boy who would become something. Myself, the girl, destined to be a wife and mother. While he was taught foreign languages, and coached to learn the capitals of the world, I was encouraged to watch my waist and keep my weight in check.
At school, the blonde girls who drank tea asked what I wanted to be, and I wondered, do I have a choice? My Pakistani Muslim parents were raising their children in an immigrant community in London, and the fear of losing their culture was imminent. To uphold their values, they imposed rules, rules that conflicted with all of the stories of my British school friends. I became a cultural yo yo, bouncing between the diametrically opposed realities of life and school. To maintain a sense of identity, I lied. I lied to my friends about my life with my family, and I lied to my family about my life with my friends. I lost any true sense of self, because my reality was a game of pretend.
All this pretending made me a storyteller: constructing identities, imitating characters, falsifying truths, and building worlds that I lived in and lied about. In an attempt at truth, I went to University as far away from home as possible. If I could build a life apart from my family, perhaps there would only need to be one reality for a little while. Wrong. I fell in love with an Irish Catholic bartender: the embodiment of everything forbidden. Also, a fantastic storyteller. His family accepted me, his stories enveloped me, and he made me feel like myself. Of course, I lied about him too.

Eventually, I went much further away. From my home, from my family, from everything I knew. The distance was drawing me towards the possibility of a singular truth. But of course, it wasn’t that simple. While pursuing a Master’s in social work from Boston University, I began to lose myself in the lies. So I started searching. I looked in the gritty soulful world of the underground street dance scene, in improv classes, in writing groups, in meditations, and in friendships. And slowly, I began to find myself. In the pages of my own journals, in the stories I continued to tell, I saw truth. My truth. And so I started to tell those stories louder.

Burq Off!, my one woman show, was born from all this conflict. And shockingly, my confusion told onstage is hilarious. To share this show with the world, I founded Paprika Productions, an all female company dedicated to telling the stories of brave, curious women. In the past two years Paprika Productions has produced international and national tours of Burq Off!, and it has become a platform for truth speaking. Inspired by the political power of laughter, I also co-created a Gotham Award winning web series, which targets similar issues of cultural commentary through the lens of slapstick comedy. With my creative team, my passion to tell stories continues to grow. Got an idea? Share it. Let’s tell stories together.
2017@Paprika Productions

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