Feeling Proud: 10 Pakistanis who are making it big in Hollywood

Published: August 14, 2015
Here are 10 unsung Pakistani heroes making it big in Hollywood.

Here are 10 unsung Pakistani heroes making it big in Hollywood.

KARACHI: All of us know that the legendary singer and global icon Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan had composed music for Dead Man WalkingBone Collector, and Last Temptation of Christ. And we also know that the youth icon Atif Aslam sang for Man Push Cart and The Reluctant Fundamentalist. 

But do you know of Pakistanis other than Adnan Siddiqui, Faran Tahir and Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy who made it big in Hollywood? Chances are slim, we bring you 10 unsung heroes who are making Pakistanis across the world proud.

1. Syma Chowdhry

The news reporter in Philadelphia at KYW-TV, initially appeared on MTV’s Rachael Ray Show and Law & Order. She got her big break in 2011 by becoming a news anchor at CBS for the First Forecast Mornings show in Detroit station. She has also participated in a number of beauty pageants and was the 1st runner up in the Miss Pennsylvania USA pageant.

2. Kamran Pasha

The Karachi-born popular screenwriter, director and novelist has written and produced the NBC series Kings. Some of his other works include NBC’s Bionic Woman, The CW’s Nikita, Disney’s Tron: Uprising and Sleeper Cell — nominated for the Golden Globe and Emmy Awards in Best Miniseries category in 2005 and 2006.

3. Iqbal Theba

The actor is known as Principal Figgins in Fox series Glee. He has appeared in 58 episodes throughout the six seasons. He rose to fame after appearing in Friends and Nip/Tuck. He was featured in other famous shows including, The George Carlin Show, Married With Children, ER, Two And A Half Men, Seinfeld and Everybody Loves Raymond. He was also seen in Transformers: Dark of the Moon.

4. Ayad Akhtar

The writer and actor is the proud recipient of 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. He has written plays for the stage including Disgraced, The Invisible Hand and The Who and The What. He made his debut as a novelist with American Dervesh in 2012.

5. Mir Zafar Ali

If you have seen The Golden Compass, Spiderman 3, X Men: First Class and Life of Pi, you should feel proud to know that the visual effects were created by none other than a Pakistani specialist. The Oscar-winning visual effects specialist has also received an Academy Award in Best Visual Effects category for Frozen — making it a first for the Walt Disney Animation Studios. Some of his other works include The Day After Tomorrow, The Incredible Hulk and The Mummy.

6. Novaira Masood

The credit of portraying Angelina Jolie as the picture-perfect villain in Malificent goes to none other than software engineer Novaira. She worked with her team to create inimitable special effects. She has also worked on other Hollywood films such as A Christmas CarolMars needs MomsThorTransformers 3 and Jack the Giant Slayer.

7. Gabe Grey

Syed Fuad Ahmed — now known as Gabe Grey — was born in Karachi. The 32-year-old actor was seen in The Haircut, One Last Shot and Bomb Girls: Facing the Enemy.  He has also attended the Model and Talent Search Canada in 2005. He will soon be seen in Deepa Mehta’s directorial Beeba Boys alongside Ali Kazmi.

8. Umar Khan

Umar got his big break by playing the lead role of Robert Martinez in Veracious Perception. He was also seen in the films Miami HeatThe Hitman, The Test, Deliver Us From Evil, Captain America: Civil War, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay and District Voices. The Lahore-born actor also possesses martial arts skills.

9. Sadia Shephard

The New York City-based filmmaker and author has written The Girl from Foreign: A Search for Shipwrecked Ancestors and Lost Loves. She has also produced the documentary The September Issue that featured the making of Vogue. It has won the Excellence in Cinematography Award at Sundance Film Festival in 2009.

10. Sameer Asad Gardezi

The screenwriter has written for some of the popular television series such as Aliens in America, Mr. Sunshine, Outsourced, Save Us, then the Whales and Emmy Award-winning series Modern Family. He has also won an award for his short film Equal Opportunity. Sameer is currently working on Fox’s Goodwin Games.

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Reader Comments (13)

  • syedPk
    Aug 14, 2015 - 5:00PM

    I think you forgot to include Zayn Malik … or was it on purpose ?? :DRecommend

  • Danish
    Aug 14, 2015 - 6:29PM

    Should’ve added Kumail Nanjiani in this list as well.Recommend

  • Arif
    Aug 14, 2015 - 7:04PM

    Kumail Nanjiani is too big, too good to be true, as an American-Pakistani artist! Amazing how little is shared about this talent, in his own country.Recommend

  • Ahmed
    Aug 14, 2015 - 7:45PM

    No Kumail Nanjiani?Recommend

  • MJ
    Aug 14, 2015 - 10:45PM

    Strings also had a song in Spiderman soundtrack.Recommend

  • Pak
    Aug 14, 2015 - 10:48PM

    You forgot Sibylla Deen from the shows Tut and TyrantRecommend

  • N.S
    Aug 15, 2015 - 12:22AM

    It is such a shame that Pakistan, government and the private sector is not using these names to project the soft image of Pakistan worldwide. Can be real ambassadors of Pakistan in US. Some big media group can come forward with some sort of strategy…
    Pakistan need a brand new packaging to throw out all the perception associated with the country. Recommend

  • Aug 15, 2015 - 1:09AM

    Pls Add also one more name Muneeb Hassan Flim director in New yourk USA also belongs to karachi Pakistan. he is availible on facebook and request you to pls put his name in Pakistani Stars.Recommend

  • Chachoo
    Aug 15, 2015 - 5:19AM

    GTA V producer and lead mission designer Imran Sarwar has Pakistani Origins as well. Recommend

  • Syed Ahmed
    Aug 15, 2015 - 6:51AM

    Hi, Thanks to the Tribune for acknowledging the Pakistani artists sweating it out in North America. Trust me, it’s a very hard life. No matter how much recognition they get there a few lines in a newspaper back home really brightens their day. I am sure the list could be increased to a baker’s dozen to include, Zayn, Kumail and Sibylla. I don’t think there omission was intentional. Here’s the link to a demo reel of Gabe Grey – the Karachi born Fuad Ahmed. He also worked in the Steven Spielberg produced TV series Lucky 7.


  • Aug 15, 2015 - 8:55AM

    Salams! I hope you all enjoyed your Independence day celebrations??? I did. Thanx.

    Most of you kind people must appreciate what ET is doing by presenting ten Pakistanis who are making it in Hollywood. For a variety of reasons, the names you mentioned, could not have fit in…….SO COMPLIMENT, NOT CRITICIZE. Thanx and Salams Recommend

  • Mohsin
    Aug 15, 2015 - 10:37AM

    If you are mentioning weather reporters as hollywood stars, then how about Adnan Virk? The newscaster for ESPN!Recommend

  • Manish Rastogi
    Aug 15, 2015 - 1:25PM

    Nice to know about these people who are doing some real work to inspire new generations of Pakistanis. I hope we all as reader help more young people to know about them so as to set better targets for their futures. Recommend

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