British Pakistani personality, Rayyan Ibrahim, has found success on television through some of the biggest fictions aired on channels like Hum TV and Geo TV. However, he journey has been challenging for the host turned actress to where she is today. BizAsiaLive.com caught up with Ibrahim about her career so far.
As a British actress finding success on Pakistani television, is praiseworthy, how has the journey been for you?
It hasn’t been an easy journey, it has been tough but worthwhile. I fell in love with acting the moment I was introduced to it, that has been what’s kept me going.
What has been your biggest challenge joining the Pakistani television industry?
The cultural difference and the lack of structure since there are no real casting agencies for when it comes to Television and Film. It’s pretty much how connected you are and who you know. Typecasting is another one, especially when you are from abroad. That’s one thing Sameena Peerzada said to me when I worked with her on ‘Noor’ (telefilm). She told me to make sure I don’t get typecast. I spent the entire last year doing varied roles so that it doesn’t happen, but even then after doing ‘Bela Pur Ki Dayan’. My next one is a character called Bubbles, a young funky student in ‘Romeo Weds Heer’. Casting couch is a real thing, girls who go for these kinds of set ups actually ruin it for those like me. One of the casting persons from a production, after seeing me in Bela Pur wanted to cast me in a “bhabhi” role. When I said I wasn’t really interested responded, “there are certain criteria we have for casting as a lead heroine”. I felt furious and just left. I won’t ever apologize for being curvy, tall and brown.
Your show ‘Bela Pur Di Dayan’ on Hum TV, has done incredibly well in Pakistan and moreover in the UK, how does that make you feel?
It’s Overwhelming, Bela Pur has given me a lot of recognition globally. It’s been the toughest project I have done so far. People say comedy is the most difficult genre, I’d say horror is! It’s also not easy living up to an award winning director’s expectations. When I meet industry leaders and they give you their feedback, it feels like an accomplishment.
What do you think it is about ‘Bela pur Di Dayan’ that has clicked well with viewers?
There are not that many horror series on air, so it was something that set us apart immediately. Bela Pur has also been shot in a very subtle way, it’s not your old school South Asian Horror Drama, which ends up being slapstick. There’s a lot of suspense and the plot itself is gripping and strong.
I think we even pull in Indian audiences since our plays are short and crisp. It’s only recently that soaps have started to gain some viewership.
How would you compare the UK and Pakistani audiences when watching shows like ‘Belapur Di Dayan’?
I think they are both on the same kind of tangent since Bela pur has done well in the UK and Pakistan, but I think with the Pakistani audiences, they still need to understand characterization. I’ve read so many comments online about how Aalia (my character in Belapur needs to brush her hair etc). I am playing a young housewife who has two kids, living in a haunted house fearing for her and her family’s life. Makeup and straightening my hair would obviously be the last thing on my mind haha.
Do you think there are more opportunities available in the Pakistani television industry, owing to the success of social media?
Social media plays a role, but not a major one. I think it’s more because the industry has boomed, there are international channels but so many national ones too. There is so much Television content being created at the same time, it has created opportunities whereas in the UK or Hollywood even though there are opportunities for ethnic minorities, it’s still not so common. I think we even pull in Indian audiences since our plays are short and crisp. It’s only recently that soaps have started to gain some viewership.
As well as acting, you’ve also hosted shows, will you continue with this?
Yes absolutely, I started from hosting. It’s something which still excites me and I enjoy doing.
What are your future plans?
My future plans include creating my own content, I am working on my first script right now. Let’s see!