‘Patriarchy holds us to an altogether different standard!’

Shefali Saxena Tuesday 02nd November 2021 15:25 EDT

Zainab Hasan is currently starring in Rice, a co-production with Actors Touring Company and Orange Tree Theatre until 13 November. The play will be live-streamed on the 4 &5 Nov at 7.30pm and can be viewed online On Demand from 16 – 19 November. Hasan plays the role of Nisha, a young hotshot executive working for Golden Fields, Australia’s largest producer of rice. Ambitious and headstrong, she’s determined to become the first female Indian CEO in Australia. She’s close to sealing a contract with the Indian government, which would see her company take over India’s national rice distribution system. 


In an exclusive interview with Asian Voice, Zainab Hasan spoke about being an actor in the post-pandemic world and more. 


What is it like being an actor in the post-pandemic world?

It’s definitely a challenge being an actor in a post pandemic world. Whilst working on projects we still have to keep safe, but it’s a challenge because so much of being an actor is about nurturing relationships, and making intimate connections with the individuals you work with, so that’s definitely harder. But it feels good to be doing what I love and to tell this beautiful story, and so that’s what I try to focus on.


What are the challenges of being a female actor, finding work and sustaining in the arts sector when women are not well represented?

It’s hard. Really hard. I make no bones about it. Patriarchy holds us to an altogether different standard! Add race, class, age, disability, sexuality into the mix and you become a minority within a minority. None of it is easy. If your class position and your material conditions are such that you don’t have money to fall back on, it’s completely unsustainable, because there is no safety net. I still live at home with my parents, as it’s the only way I can still do this. But I choose to do what I do, because I love what I do. 


You are currently starring in Rice, a play about a young hot shot Indian executive. What drew you to the role of Nisha and how does the character resonate with you?

I took this job because I’ve never seen two women like this on stage together before. I took it for the craft. To stretch the Actress in me. It’s a challenge unlike any I’ve had. And I took it to do meaningful, important work. I think my character Nisha is an interesting one, because on the surface she can come across as someone full of hubris and quite mean, but actually she’s vulnerable underneath. Her life is quite complex. She feels like she has a lot to prove and live up to. She has this veneer of privilege, and whilst in some ways she is, in other ways she really isn’t. I find it interesting to play characters that are complex, which of course she is.


What do you hope audiences will take away from seeing the show?

Ultimately I hope audiences can celebrate these two women. I hope they enjoy it.


For more information please go to https://orangetreetheatre.co.uk/whats-on/rice

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