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While Pakistanis are doing commendable work all over the world, there are a select few who’ve made a mark in Hollywood. These celebrities are brilliant in their respective genres – music or film – and have become renowned figures all across the globe and thanks to their achievements Pakistan can be proud for producing such talent. It’s time we applauded these industry giants.


Zayn Malik

Zayn Malik, born Zain Javadd, is a 24 year old musician who needs no introduction. He spent four years in One Direction before embarking upon his solo career, and may we add that it was probably the best decision of his career. Malik’s personality and body of work has grown tremendously since the split. He’s dating IT girl of the year Gigi Hadid, is considered a leading style icon, had a fashion contract with Donatella Versace to create his own capsule collection and performs to sold-out concerts all over the world.  His single, and album of the same name, ‘Pillowtalk’ , reached number one in several countries, making Malik the first British male artist to debut at number one in both the UK and US with a debut single and debut album. Thankfully, Malik is also proud of his lineage because he once designed an entire 23-piece collection that prominently featured the Urdu script. “My family is from Pakistan, so having artwork in Urdu has huge significance to me,” he was once quoted as saying. Way to go Zayn!


Faran Tahir

Faran Tahir

Perhaps the most prolific and well known Pakistani actor in Hollywood is Faran Tahir who has a wide array of cinematic outings to take ownership of. He appeared alongside Tom Hanks in Charlie Wilson’s War but really made us proud when he landed a spot in Robert Downey Jr’s Iron Man.  Science fiction films seem to be his favourite as he later went on to play Captain Richard in the 2009 Star Trek and President Patel in Elysium, which featured Matt Damon in a lead role. Tahir has also appeared in numerous hit TV shows as well, such as Alias, The Practice, Monk and the award winning Grey’s Anatomy.


Riz Ahmed

Riz Ahmed

Next on our radar is Rizwan Ahmed, also known as Riz MC, who isn’t just famous, but is also multi talented as well. Many people know him for his superior acting skills but don’t know that the young actor is very much musically inclined as well. He is a rapper in his band called the Swet Shop Boys (who’ve been included in the Coachella line-up this year). Coming back to his acting, Riz has a number of successful projects under his belt. He was first noticed in Mira Nair’s adaptation of the best-selling novel by Mohsin Hamid, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, and went on to appear in Nightcrawler opposite Jake Gyllenhaal. He then got the role of a lifetime with the hit TV series The Night Of and has now become an unstoppable force in Hollywood. He received an Emmy nomination for the said role and also landed a spot on the coveted Star Wars film Rogue One.


Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy

Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy has made Pakistanis feel proud time and time again. She’s the first Pakistani woman to bring home two Oscars for her documentary films Saving Face and A Girl in the River and this immediately brought her under the global spotlight. Chinoy has also won six Emmy Awards, including two of which are in the International Emmy Award for Current Affairs Documentary category for the films Pakistan’s Taliban Generation and the documentary Saving Face. She’s also the mastermind behind Pakistan’s first 3D animated feature film, 3 Bahadur. For all of her contributions, Time named her as one of the ‘100 most influential people in the world’ of 2012 and Chinoy’s status was further elevated in 2017 when she became the first artist to co-chair the World Economic Forum.


Nadia Ali

Singer Nadia Ali became instantly famous when her song ‘Rapture’ became the number one party song all over the world. It reached No. 2 on the UK Singles Chart and also charted across several countries in Europe. Much like Zayn Malik, Ali also pursued a solo career in EDM in 2005 and has made her presence known. She’s one of the most successful electronic music artists all over the world and has worked with big names in trance music, such as Starkillers and Alex Kenji on her single ‘Pressure’, which became a club and festival anthem and received an International Dance Music Award.


This article was originally published in Instep, 9th March 2017.