“Everyone’s got the spark of God in them — it may be a candle, torch or a spotlight, depending on how we channel it,” says Sadia Hyat Khan, Canadian-Pakistani professional actor, anchorperson, TV host, philanthropist, environmentalist and sage.
She started out during the rigors of A levels; got a photo shoot with Khawar Riaz and compiled a portfolio with Ather Shehzad. “These guys are the rock stars of Pakistan fashion. They really encouraged me,” says Khan. Soon after she was spotted by noted actor and director Usman Peerzada and got the lead in the 1998 PTV show “Miss Why”. Her career surged and Khan later honed her skills further at the Vancouver Film School and the William Davies Centre for Acting. In an exclusive interview with The Express Tribune, Khan talks about her TV roles, spiritualism and winning the PTV National Award for Acting 2011.
It’s important to mention that Khan picks up on auras best described as golden and magnetic, appropriate for a Leo with a Scorpio rising – a potent and charismatic combination. It’s the sort of rare and energising presence that catches laureate actor Sir Ben Kingsley off guard, which is what happened when Khan met him while on a film school field trip to the set of Isabel Coixet’s Elegy, starring Kingsley and Penelope Cruz.
So, what did he say?
Khan: Most of our group ran up to him. I shied and hung back. He called out to me, said, ‘Why are you behind the camera? You should be in front of it’. It was such a great affirmation!
Fantastic. He probably dug your aura. And on that note, what’s your brand of spirituality?
Khan: My spirituality is very important to me; it determines the way I live. It goes beyond religion. There’s a bit of God, Allah, in each of us — a spark waiting to be used. I believe in the One creator of all.
How does it trickle into your career?
Khan: I’ve always had faith in my spirituality and myself; this has allowed to me get over tons of on-set hurdles and hardships. It makes me strong. The world of acting, especially in Pakistan, is a difficult place for a woman as many here associate the profession with a specific ‘class’ of people. They don’t think it’s ‘decent’ or ‘professional’.
There are echoes of a similar struggle in the 2010 PTV serial “Tinkay”. What was the experience like?
Khan: Shakila Bibi has been my most memorable role yet. I’ve volunteered with Unicef and Amnesty International, Canada. I’ve seen people in pain and have always wanted to change this. Shakila Bibi, married so young and wanting nothing more than to learn English, to educate herself, she endures so much hardship to fight against injustice, to fight for her rights. I want her story to encourage women to stand up against violence and injustice.
You received an acting award for Shakila Bibi. How did it feel?
Khan: Honestly, it was surreal. I’m dedicating it to all the Shakila Bibis of the world who have the guts to speak up and fend for themselves. The award has made me feel that I was doing my job well, that I was doing everything to nurture and challenge my God-given spark of creativity and my love of acting.
New doors continue to open for the young star on the rise: next up is her foray into production management and a plan to start her own production house.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 5th, 2011.