Dana Hajaj profile

Dana Hajaj

Dana Hajaj

Royal Holloway University of London (2023)


Professor John Hill


Developing a TV Drama for the Misrepresented: British Female Arab Actors


This creative practice-based project investigates the lived experiences of British-Arab actors in the UK, employing an interdisciplinary approach involving critical analysis, interviews and autoethnography to develop a screenplay that will challenge existing stories.

The academic study of Arab stereotypes on US screens is well-established and has focused primarily on global politics. The analysis of the representation of Arabs in British broadcasting, the experiences of Arab actors performing these representations and the impact that playing these roles has upon them have been neglected. Although there is a growing literature on diversity, representation and access in the UK film and television workforce, the position of the British-Arab experience, both within the industry and in general, has also been limited. This project will therefore address this absence by a) investigating the images of Arabs that have prevailed historically in British film and television, by b) exploring the relationship between British-Arab actors and the roles they have been expected to perform, and by c) writing a screenplay that will bridge the gap between the analysis of the representations and the lived experiences of the British actors. Combining the analysis of existing roles and representations of Arabs in British film and television, with interviews with British-Arab actors and an element of self-reflection on my own experiences as a British-Arab actor will lay the basis for the writing of a TV drama series rooted in the actual lives of British-Arab actors, and female actors in particular. The screenplay will dramatize the personal and professional challenges they face. In doing so, the script will develop new ways to articulate British-Arab experience through television drama, tell new kinds of stories about them and add to the understanding of more general questions of representation, diversity and employment opportunities within the UK film and television industry.