My film about Muslim-American Identity

By: Susana Cesares 
My name is Susana Casares and I am a filmmaker from Spain currently finishing an MFA in filmmaking at UCLA. I am in preproduction for my thesis film, which revolves around a Muslim-American family who lives in a small town in Southern California. It’s main character is a 14 year-old Muslim-American girl who is struggling to define her identity without compromising her relationship with her non-Muslim best friend, her family’s beliefs and her need to find a voice of her own.
This is a conflict that many teenagers go through, especially when they have a different cultural background than the people around them. As a filmmaker, I don’t want to make a judgment but rather show the complexity of the subject matter. How to fit in a society that recognizes one of your signs of identity as a stigma? How to evolve and integrate into a new culture without losing your traditional values and your identity? How to build a more fluid and inclusive identity that is not defined only by its signs and symbols? How to accept the other without falling in the trap of stereotyping? The challenge of being torn between two worlds and two identities that seem hard to reconcile is a universal one.
Here’s a description of some of the main characters:
Age: 13-16
Background: Middle-Eastern
Nayla is a Muslim American girl who is trying to figure out her identity in a small town in Southern California.
Special skills: gymnastics
Age: 40-50
Background: Middle-Eastern
Hassan is Nayla’s father. He is a sensitive man who wants the best for his family. He was born in the Middle East and moved to the USA as a child.
Special skills:  speak Arabic (any dialect) and be very fluent in English
Background: Middle-Eastern. Asma is Nayla’s mother. She is worried that her daughter may lose sense of her Muslim identity because of her non-Muslim friends. Asma was born and raised in the Middle East and moved to the US in her late 20s.
Special skills: must speak Arabic (any dialect) and English.
Age: 10-11
Background: Middle-Eastern
Noor is Nayla’s younger sister. She is a bit shy and likes to hang out with Clara, Nayla’s best friend.
Please, feel free to contact me if you have any questions or would like to come in for an audition at

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