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Wednesday, 3 May 2006
Hijabette alert.

Sara Kohal is no ordinary aspiring actress. The 20-year-old wears the hijab, the traditional head-covering worn by many Muslim women.

She freely admits she is a wannabe, scrambling to get a foothold in a notoriously difficult profession.

But as a practising Muslim, she faces all sorts of obstacles when she portrays a character. She does not drink or smoke, she must be careful about touching men - and obviously she cannot show anything other than her face and hands.

She contacted the BBC News website because she was frustrated by the lack of opportunity and because she wants to see greater representation of Muslim women on stage and screen.....

......The response has not always been encouraging. One agent replied saying there would be no scope for someone who wore the hijab.

"If you wear your headscarf all the time I would also advise you that a career in acting would not be suitable," it reads.

"Not only are actors required to be flexible with their image you may also find yourself compromised in terms of content in scripts."

She points out that she knows some parts would not work -"I would never put myself up for the part of Juliet, I will always go for the nurse" - but says there are few parts she doesn't think are open to her, providing the director has the imagination.

But surely that's the problem? She is asking a director to limit his or her creative freedom. Jean Rogers, vice president of Equity, says Sara is limiting herself because drama is a visual industry - and so there is always going to be an element of discrimination.

"People make suppositions on what they see. Unless you get the chance to be told what they are after, most actors try to play down anything they think will put people off. You try to be a blank canvas.

"If you are going to walk in and most of your head is covered and you're not going to remove your scarf, that is your blank canvas.

The BBC (who else) invited comments, most of which were not sympathetic.

I am an aspiring actor. However I don't wear a hijab so I don't receive press attention......if you insist on strict rules it is difficult to play different characters.
John H, Southampton

As an actor, you have to be flexible to almost ANYTHING a director wishes you to portray - some of the greatest actors are so because they can portray such a wide scope of characters. If Sara cannot adhere to that, which it appears she can't, she is in the wrong business!
Helen, Bedford 

The point of an actor is to be a blank canvass which can take on the persona of whatever the story requires. Playing a Muslim woman solely is a huge restriction, on her dress, and what she can portray. So, basically she wants to play herself, a very rewarding career....not.
Kate W, London

I think she's deluding herself ......CT, Wales 

                                 Sara Kohal

Posted on 05/03/2006 7:26 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
5 May 2006
Mike Dunne
Someone claiming to be disadvantaged...which she is gain advantage...mmmmm! Good try girl but I don't think anyone will be taken in. I do have a suggestion though; she may fit in playing Mary in a nativity play seeing she has the dress sense of that historical period.

3 May 2006
Send an emailMarisol Seibold
Like an aspiring airline pilot demanding the industry respect his acrophobia.

3 May 2006
Send an emailRobert Bove
Perhaps, with those eyes, she should think even further outside the box. There must be a racoon chorus out there somewhere looking to fill a spot.

3 May 2006
Send an emailMary Jackson
This is so silly. The "restrictions" are entirely self-inflicted. Why does she have to see herself as some kind of victim?