NEW YORK – A new Muslim agent in the TV show ‘FBI’ has been hailed for his role perceived by many as a chance to change the negative portrayal of Muslims as terrorists in the media , as he also advocates for better representation of the religious minority.
“They were very interested in me being just me,” Egyptian-born Zeeko Zaki told New York Post.
“I came in so dark and so HBO [Home Box Office] and they were like, “‘Nah … stop. We want America to have a beer with this guy. Bring a little levity into it.’ ”
In the show, Zaki, 28, plays the fictitious FBI agent Omar Adom “OA” Zidan.
“Zeeko’s Egyptian/Muslim background both grounds and adds depth to the character,” “Law & Order” mastermind Dick Wolf said.
“He speaks fluent Arabic and that character has not been on a series before. I think he is representative of the type of people that are the boots on the ground in the FBI.”
Zaki, who grew up Muslim outside of Philadelphia, hopes the role of Zeeko will rehabilitate the image of Muslims on American TV since he’s all too aware that Muslims have been the go-to enemy on network series for years.
Zaki sees “FBI” as a chance to change “the narrative for Arab-Americans and help create a platform and a voice — I hate the word ‘tolerance.’ I was given this platform and this opportunity so we have to figure out how to use it for good.”
“I have a lot of Arab-American actor friends and everyone is sick and tired of playing terrorists and crying mothers.”