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Posts Tagged ‘Interviews’

Interview With Little Mosque on the Prairie’s Brandon Firla on Season 6

Sunday, March 11, 2012 @ 11:03 PM
Abbas Karimjee[ Administrator/ Owner]

 

Its  been nearly a year since  we last connected with Little Mosque`s Brandon Firla who plays the intolerant and self-serving yet surprisingly promising character of Reverend William Thorne.

With Little Mosque `s sixth and final season drawing to a close in the next  month , we discuss his reaction to  the show`s cancellation,Reverend Thorne`s developing friendship with Baber Siddiqui[ Manoj]this season  as well as he actor`s experiences as a cast member on the show and the program’s impact on building bridges between the Islamic community and  the Western society.

Take a read through our humorous yet insightful interview with the Brandon Firla, below.

Abbas Karimjee: Since we last connected, it was announced that Little Mosque will conclude its run on television upon the end of its current season. What is your response to the show ending and why do you think it has been decided for this show to end at this point, despite its huge success, both in Canada and worldwide?

Brandon Firla:This is the first I’m hearing of this. Wow. Are you sure? I’ll have to look over my contract again and call my agent. And my Real Estate agent. That lakeshore condo isn’t gonna pay for itself.

That said, I think it’s always best to go out on top and when you’re in peak form and still relevant. Just like Michael Jordan did. Twice. But then he came back a second time, was too old and out of shape so he retired again and tarnished his legacy. The point is, you gotta know when to pull the plug and walk away. But like Michael Jordan, I’m now gonna go play professional baseball for a season or two, then come back to the biz.

AK: What was the mood like on set during the final weeks of the show?

The cast of Little Mosque share a toast as production draws to a close[ June 2011

BF:It was truly bittersweet. It’s rare that you know your series is coming to an end before you shoot a single scene, so we were all able to say a proper farewell to our castmates and characters. That usually doesn’t happen.AK: You have played Thorne for three seasons. How have you related with the character?

BF:I relate to his height, his questionable hairstyle, and his limited wardrobe selection. Other than that, we couldn’t be more different.

AK: Last season we saw Thorne develop a relationship with Rose. Will we have the chance to see more of this as the season progresses? How do you think this relationship has contributed to the character’s development?

BF:We will not see anymore of Rose. In a deleted scene from last season’s finale, she was abducted by aliens from the planet Zarbax 5 in the omega quadrant. The aliens also erased any memories Thorne or the people of Mercy may have had of her. It was a powerful scene. I’m not sure why it was cut.

AK: Gradually, Thorne has transformed himself into a character that has become more likeable, from how he has connected with Amaar and various other residents of Mercy, allowing him to show that he is genuinely making a commitment to improve despite his many flaws. How did portraying this aspect of Thorne prove to be challenging? Based on the response you have heard from  viewers over the past season, how has fan response towards the character changed?

BF:It was great fun to have Thorne climb out of the enormous hole he had dug for himself by the end of season It’s always better for the character, for the actor, and for the audience when your characters have to deal with new situations and challenges and relationships in every episode than it is to see them face the same problem again and again.  Season 4 pretty much exhausted every angle of the Thorne vs Amaar conflict, so it was very freeing for the writers and for myself to not be bound to that as a central conflict. As for fan response, I have no idea if or how it’s changed. You can’t control what people are going to think about you or your character, so I don’t put much thought into that.  Though I do cry myself to sleep some nights after reading some of the comments on IMDb. It was actually more challenging to play Thorne in the first season.

AK: This season Baber and Thorne we have connected as best friends.  What was your reaction when you learnt of this storyline and could you please give is an idea of some of the excitement which is to come as we further delve into their relationship?

BF:I thought it was a great “odd couple” pairing, but more importantly a great way to exploit and explore the spiritual themes of the series. Some of the excitement to look forward to is when Babar gets abducted by aliens from the planet Zarbax 5 in the omega quadrant.  Thorne builds a rocketship in his sacristy and blasts off to liberate his friend, reunite with Rose, and unleash holy hell on the evil Zarbaxians.

AK: What do you think draws the two to become great friends, in a way much different from how Thorne became friends with Amaar?

BF:Backgammon. And faith. But mainly the backgammon.

AK: With Baber and Thorne now developing a strong friendship, could you please share some insights on how Reverend Thorne’s established friendship with Ammar will be impacted?

BF:I think he’s used to being abandoned by friends by now.  Think about it: Magee left. Yasir left. Even Joe left. Maybe he should try a new aftershave.

AK: Reverend Thorne replaced Reverend Magee upon the commencement of the show’s fourth season to add some challenges to the Muslim community’s relationship with their fellow Anglicans. Do you feel the character’s  presence has acted  as a sort of  model to the show’s audience  in demonstrating how  even  those  from different  backgrounds and faiths  may have a chance to  positively build on their relationship  , despite negative  preconceived  notions that they have about one another?

BF:Yes. Well put.  I don’t even have to answer that one.

 AK: How does it feel to have been apart of a show which is the first of its kind in terms of building  bridges between the Islamic community and the Western society?

BF:I think its commendable whenever television programs give funding to a long-term construction project. I look forward to driving across that bridge someday.

 AK. You have had a lot of experiences from working the show over it last three seasons. What are some of your favorite moments, either on screen or off screen in production?

BF:My daughter was born 3 weeks before season 2 started shooting, so that was pretty special. The show sort of became a baby factory with a lot of crew, cast, writers, and production staff having offspring over the course of its run. I recommended to anyone with fertility issues to get a job on the Little Mosque set

AK: Is there a message of thanks which you would like to offer to fans of the show, as it draws to a close?

BF:Thank you for suffering through any scene that I was in. It shows true inner strength and a clear understanding of passing through purgatory before reaching paradise.

 

 

 

 

Little Mosque on the Prairie’s Debra McGrath Discusses The Show’s Final Season

Monday, February 6, 2012 @ 08:02 PM
Abbas Karimjee[ Administrator/ Owner]

McGrath  discusses her response to the show’s cancellation as well as the mood which was present amongst the show’s cast throughout the final weeks .We also extensively discuss   some of the challenges involved with Mayor Popowicx‘s serious romantic relationship   this season as well as how the pursuit such a serious relationship speaks to how the Mayor has developed over the course of the show. With Sarah Hammoudi’s divorce, also being a key element in the final season, we learn how the two’s friendship is impacted as Ann tries to support her best friend.

 The actress also further reflects on her final experiences with the show, explaining why she thinks viewers will find the series finale satisfying as well as how she thinks both  Little Mosque and  the character of Mayor Popowicx  will be remembered. McGrath also gives us an update on a spinoff series which she has been working on with Little Mosque’s  Sheila McCarthy as well as some of her other recent acting projects.

 Take a read through our complete interview, below!

Abbas Karimjee:Since we last connected, it was announced that Little Mosque on the Prairie will end upon the conclusion of its upcoming sixth season. What was your initial reaction when you learned of this and what are your thoughts on the factors which led to the shows cancellation?

The cast of Little Mosque on the Prairie share a toast as filming for the series draws to a close[ June 2011

Debra McGrath:I was never sad to hear it.We all believed that season five was going to be the end which  made season six such a bonus, which it certainly turned out to be.

AK: Could you please describe the atmosphere and mood which was present on set, amongst the shows cast and crew throughout the final weeks of production?

DM:The last weeks of this show were the finest I have known on a set. Everyone was emotional, more emotional than we expected I think. This cast and crew has been through lots together, births and deaths alike. We bonded over this time and we knew that the end would take us in different directions and that we would miss seeing one another at “Mosque camp”. We had our own wonderful farewell celebrations, large and small, on and off the set. The mood was high and sweet. I will never forget it.

AK: In the upcoming sixth season, Mayor Popowicz will find love with Charles Thorne [Peter Keleghan], who is Reverend William Thornes younger brother. Could you please give us an idea of the circumstances and factors which draw Mayor Popowicz and Charles together?

DM:Like all good love stories, they start out despising each other and then find themselves dealing with a very strong sexual attraction. I don’t want to give too much away because the way in which they come together is fraught with twists and turns.

  AK: Could you please give us an idea of some of the challenges which the two will face over the course of their relationship?

DM:I will say one thing without giving too much away. The biggest challenge they face is the fact that Charles is engaged to be married to someone else. Always a bit of a stumbling block for a new relationship wouldn’t you say?

 AK: When we last connected, you mentioned that one of your potential aspirations for the character of Mayor Popowicz would be that she leaves her position as mayor of Mercy for love. Does the Mayors discovery of true love influence her performance on the job or make her reconsider her desire to run as mayor of Mercy?

DM:Nope. In fact much to Charles chagrin, she remains very much a career gal.I could not have been happier that they gave her a true love. Better than leaving office methinks.

AK: Mayor Popowicz is a character who has been known for engaging in casual relationships. How do you think being involved in a real, serious relationship speaks to the characters development over the course of the show?  In what other ways do you think the character has also developed?

 DM:Oh yeah the Mayor has done her share of dabbling!!! And the beauty of her relationship with Charles is that it has the best of both worlds, it was an affair and true love both! I think we have seen the softer side of Ann these last two seasons and what I have loved is that we have been able to see her true love for Sarah. The relationship between Ann and Sarah has been such a happy thing for both Sheila and myself. These characters had such a funny odd relationship and it became more and more layered as the years went on. When Yasir left, we were able to tap into that more. But don’t get me wrong, we really missed Carlo.

AK: Peter Keleghan recently mentioned that you two have been real life friends for over 25 years. How do you think you think a preexisting friendship enhanced the portrayal of Mayor Popowicz relationship with Charles?

DM:I think Peter and I had a built in rapport so that was great. But I did blog about the fact that it is hard when old friends have to make out on camera. I called it “Comedians. Don’t. Kiss.”

AK: According to a press release issued by CBC, Sarah and Yasser finalize their divorce in the sixth season. How does Sarahs divorce impact the twos friendship, in terms of the level of support Ann provides her with?

AK:Could you please give us an idea of what else is in store for Ann Popowicz in the show’s final season, both in terms of her role as mayor of Mercy and as a member of the community?

DM:Without giving too much away, she saves the day in a big way towards Mercy having it’s own mosque and I think that becomes her greatest and ONLY unselfish act as Mayor. Mind you, I am sure she has wrestled with the idea of them naming it Mayor Ann Mosque!

 AK: In general, what else is in store for Little Mosques sixth and final season? How do you think this season will serve as a satisfactory ending to the six seasons of the show?

DM:I am speaking the truth when I tell you that the show is tied up in such a beautiful way. The end is true to the intention and a wonderful gift to the fans and more importantly to the tone and message of the show. I could not be prouder of the way it wraps up.

AK: How do you think both Little Mosque and the character of Mayor Popowicx, in particular will be remembered as?

DM:Little Mosque will be remembered I hope, as a groundbreaking CANADIAN show that dared to be humane, that tried to be inclusive and dispelled stereotypes. I think the mayor will remembered as that sassy little sarcastic gal who was often drunk, frankly.

AK. Sheila McCarthy has been working with you on writing a spinoff. Are there any details regarding the concept of this spinoff, which you are able to reveal? What progress has been made to date on its development?

DM:Sheila and I are working hard to get another series going for she and I to partner in. It has strayed from the spinoff formula. Right now we have many ideas we  are working on. We are throwing all our balls up in the air and seeing what lands.

AK: With Little Mosque coming to an end, is there a final message which you have for fans of the series?

DM:I would first say thank you from the bottom of my heart to the fans, many of whom I have had the pleasure of meeting over the years. And then I would say that they are lucky to see the show they loved have a proper and beautiful ending. Many times you find out your show has been cancelled between seasons and you never have that joy of finishing, really finishing. I have many TV shows in my life that have meant so much to me. And to those who have loved Mosque, I say you will love this final season.

AK: With both Little Mosque and your recent series on Showcase,Single White Spenny having concluded,  are there any other projects which you have been involved in?

DM:Yes, my writing partner, my husband and myself are developing something and working hard at that. Right now my husband and I are together shooting Stephen Leacock’s “Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town” and it is just a charming project filled with the Who’s Who of Canadian Comedy world.

Thanks so much for allowing me to say a farewell in this article. I will miss my Mosque. Already do.

Manoj Sood Discusses Little Mosque on the Prairie’s Sixth Season and More

Saturday, November 12, 2011 @ 03:11 PM
Abbas Karimjee[ Administrator/ Owner]

Its been almost a year since we last connected with Little Mosque on the Prairie’s Manoj Sood[ Baber Siddiqui]. With the show approaching the commencement of its sixth and final season this January and Manoj being kind enough to participate in an interview with us,we discuss Baber’s upcoming  friendship with Reverend William Thorne[ Brandon Firla], the character’s relationship with his daughter Layla[Aliza Vellani] as she furthers her independence at University as well as some details on Little Mosque’s highly anticipated series finale.

Manoj also reflects on his time on the show,by sharing  his insights on how successful it has been in building bridges between the Islamic community and western society, how the show has impacted his professional life, his favorite moments from working on the show  and his final message to viewers of the program.

Read through our complete interview with the actor, below!

Abbas Karimjee:Since we last connected,it was announced that Little Mosque on the Prairie would end after its upcoming sixth and final season.What was your reaction about the show coming to an end and what do you think were the factors which led to the decision to cancel the show? Could you please describe the atmosphere which was present on the set of Little Mosque during the final weeks of production?

Manoj Sood: Every show has a specific life span and Little Mosque is no different.Rarely do TV shows last more than 5 or 6 seasons in Canada so to last 6 seasons is a real achievement. The atmosphere on set was like any other season.Filming a TV show is a very busy process and when we are on set we focus on doing the job we are there to do which is to act. We knew well before the season started that it would be the last season so there were no surprises or heavy sentiment. The end was expected.

 AK: This season Baber has a new storyline, in terms of becoming best friends with Reverend William Thorne [Brandon Firla] On the outset, the two seem like an odd pair given how Baber is an extremely conservative Muslim while Reverend Thorne is an Anglican leader who is also quite judgmental. Reverend Thorne also previously manipulated Baber, to help ensure that Mercy Mosque was evicted from the Church back in the show’s fourth season.

What was your initial reaction when you learnt of this storyline and could you please give us an idea as to the circumstances which help lead the two to becoming best of friends?

MS:I thought that a lot of humour would come from this unlikely friendship.That is the magic of TV: where very unrealistic situations become real and the result is laughter. The friendship began when Baber was running the Mosque while Amaar was away on his honeymoon.The details will become apparent in the first episode ;-)

AK: What are some of the challenges which the two will face with each other during the course of the season?

MS: They will face the challenge of maintaining a friendship in light of the fact they have very different views in terms of their religion and attitudes towards life.Of course these challenges force each of the 2 characters to face their own intolerances and make compromises to accept the differences in each other.

AK: Are there any other plot points regarding the friendship,which you are able to reveal?

MS: One aspect of a friendship is friendly competition.You will see the 2 competing in some very funny ways.

AK: Did portraying Baber’s relationship with Reverend Thorne present some acting challenges, given how the relationship has evolved to a genuinely friendly one as opposed to previous seasons?

MS: Fortunately we have very good writers on Little Mosque.When the writing is good much of the actor’s job is done and the rest is much easier. The challenge of portraying Baber as a friend of Thorne is no different to portraying Baber in any situation: the key is to be truthful to the character and everything will fall into place.

AK: How do you think becoming best of friends with Reverend Thorne, speaks to how Baber has developed over the years? Having played the character since Little Mosque’s inauguration in 2006, how else do you think the character has evolved over the course of the show?

MS: I guess I could dare say that Baber is a bit more tolerant but not too muchÉ.Otherwise he would become boring.Over the years Baber has become gentler yet he is still as ignorant and big-headed than ever.

AK: Last season Baber dealt with some of the challenges of being separated from his daughter, Layla [Aliza Vellani] who attended University elsewhere. Will viewers have the chance to see this relationship further explored in the final season? If so, could you please give us an idea of what is store for Baber’s relationship with Layla, particularly given how it was hinted in last season’s finale that Layla has become romantically involved at university?

Layla will be making some serious decisions about her future this season. How will Baber respond ?

MS: Layla is at university and she makes some serious decisions about her future…that’s all I can say about this though.

AK:Could you please give us an idea of what else is in store for Baber this season, as a treasurer/ member of Mercy Mosque?Also, what else is in store for Little Mosque’s final season, in general?
Baber continues to be a key figure and leader in the Mosque and his stubbornness and intolerance continues to raise issues in a very funny way. As for the show in general you will see new relationships develop between the different townspeople, some relationships will change and a few new-comers will show up. I also feel that you will see a more emotional side of Baber this season.

AK: The sixth and final season is all leading up to the series finale. What can viewers expect of the finale, episode itself?How suitable of an ending do you think the finale will be, in terms of how it wraps up the story lines of the characters of Mercy?

MS: The season ends with a bit of pageantry, a surprise for Baber a compromise for Amaar and a few goals being achieved. Sorry I can’t say more ;-)

AK: Little Mosque has been such a successful series both internationally as well as in Canada,with the series premiere having earned 2.1 million viewers.What impact do you think the series has had on Canadian culture and how do you think the series represents Canada, given how it is the first of its kind in building bridges between the Islamic community and western society? Also, how successful do you think the show has been in building bridges?

MS: The show has put a friendly face on a religion and group of people who have been tainted by unfortunate international events. I believe the show has done much to breakdown stereotypes. To a degree I believe that thanks to Little Mosque,Muslims are not automatically seen in a negative light as much as they once were.

AK: Has working on Little Mosque impacted both your career and your personal life? How?

MS: I like to think that working consistently on a show for so many seasons has developed and honed my acting skills. It has opened doors to other projects which came to me only because the producer or director knew my work on Little Mosque. I’ve been surprised when my agent tells me that she received an inquiry from a casting director in another country who liked my work on Little Mosque and wants to know if I am available for a new project.

AK: Reflecting on your experiences on the show, what are some of your favourite memories of working on Little Mosque, either on-screen or off-screen in production?

MS: I really enjoyed the Halloween episode in Season 1 and at a comedy award show I, as Baber, sang a lovely spoof of the Johnny Cash song, “Walk the Line”. I had never sung in front of an audience before so it was something I will never forget.

AK :In retrospect, how do you believe Little Mosque and Baber, in particular will be remembered as?

MS: Little Mosque was the first cultural sitcom in Canada that appealed to a broad audience.It will be remembered not only as a Canadian but an international success.It will be remembered as a show that built bridges between different peoples while at the same time making people laugh.I believe that Baber will be remembered as the first fundamental Muslim that people actually liked. He won’t be remembered for his dashing looks or sexy body….unfortunately ;-) .

AK: Do you have a final message which you would like to convey to viewers of Little Mosque, with the show having drawn to a close?
MS: I really do appreciate all of you who stayed with the show thorough all of its changes over its six seasons.Thanks so much for watching!!!!

AK: With Little Mosque having drawn to an end, are there any other projects which you have been involved in? Also, what aspirations do you have for the future of your acting career?

MS: Right now I am focusing trying to write and produce my own television show. That is my long-term goal.

AK: What activities do you enjoy in your spare time?

MS: I am a very passionate amateur astronomer and fly fisherman. I spent much of July and August fishing all offer BC with my son. Most of my spare time when I am not at work is spent with my son and our goofy dog named Mowgli.

Interview With Little Mosque on the Prairie’s Neil Crone

Monday, March 28, 2011 @ 08:03 PM
Abbas Karimjee[ Administrator/ Owner]

Neil Crone has been leading a  distinguished   career as a talented actor  within the Canadian entertainment industry, who has been involved in  the productions of a variety of different  television series, feature films as well as commercials. Neil has  had particular experience in animated productions such as Erky–Perky, Pearlie and The Adventures of Bob and Doug Mackenzie. Neil has now been staring on CBC’s hit sitcom,  Little Mosque on the Prairie as the  intolerant yet comical radio host, Fred Tupper.

With Little Mosque on the Prairie concluding its  fifth season and Neil being kind enough to  participate in a interview with us, we decided to take the chance to discuss the  challenges of playing Fred,  Neil’s favourite moments from the current, fifth season,  the actor’s perspective on how the series has influenced Canadian culture ,  Neil’s hopes for his post Little Mosque  career and  much more!

1.Lets discuss your initial appointment to the role of Fred Tupper.  Were you contacted or did you first audition for the role? Could you please walk us through the initial process?

The role of Fred came to me actually through one of those weird, karmic, out of the box, methods.  I write a weekly humor column for a number of newspapers.  I also have an electronic mailing list for people who want to read the column but don’t or can’t get the papers it’s in.  My brother, who is on the electronic list, had been forwarding a lot of my columns to friends, one of whom was married to Susan Alexander, one of the original producers of this new pilot called ‘Little Mosque on the Prairie’.  She loved the tone of my writing and got in touch with me to ask if I would like to audition for the role of Fred.  It happened totally outside of the normal channels of casting.  I’m not sure if my agent had even become aware of the show before I mentioned this audition to him.

The other weird thing is that after my first audition, which I thought went very well, for some odd reason the tape was inadvertently erased.  I had to come back for a second audition.  That made me a little nervous, as I really felt I’d hit it out of the park on my first go round. Actors tend to be a superstitious bunch and I didn’t want to go back in there and mess it up this time around.  But, I guess things worked out.  I got the role.

2.What has been the most challenging aspect of playing Fred and how have you coped with this challenge?

Fred is actually very easy to play.  I kind of like him.  Yes, he’s a loud-mouthed boob, but he’s kind of a sweet boob underneath all of that.  The only real risk with someone like Fred is crossing the line into ‘mean’ territory.  But between great writers and my own spidey-senses, we never really have to worry about that.  The only other challenge, and I hesitate to even call it a challenge, is finding Fred’s sweetness and playing that.  I was blown away, and actually felt kind of honored when the writers gave me a remarkably touching speech to deliver in a scene immediately following Rayann’s failed wedding.  I loved that they let the normally boorish Fred, have that moment.  That they entrusted that to me.

3. How do you relate to the character of Fred Tupper?

There’s a little of Fred in all of us I think.  People who are afraid of change or anything different fro what they’re accustomed to.  So I understand that part of him.  But deep down, he’s just like anyone else too, in that he really wants to be loved and accepted.

 

4. You have done both voice work  on  series/ film productions such  as  Care Bears and Rolie Polie Olie as well as stage work on  productions such as Little Mosque. Which type of acting do you prefer and what benefits are associated with your selection?

Voice work is wonderful because in many cases the actor really is it.  There’s no lighting, no camerawork, no editor to speak of so it’s all about the ‘voice’.  And the actors are generally afforded a real respect, that is not always present in other media…unless you’re a huge A-list star.  Having said that, one of the reasons I so much enjoy my work on Little Mosque, is that we (the actors) are extremely well-respected and our input very much welcome.  The other nice thing about voice work is that there’s no worries about wardrobe or make-up.  No hot lights to work beneath, just a nice air conditioned studio.  I grew up addicted to cartoons, so whenever I get the chance to voice one, I’m over the moon.

5. How do you think the character  of Fred has developed over the course of the series and what aspirations do you have for him  as the series approaches its sixth and final season?

One of the storylines that was started and kind of got lost was a simmering love attraction between Fred and Fatima.  I loved that…and I think Arlene (Duncan) did as well.  I would love to rekindle that and see where it goes.  After all, what is more interesting than a man who is supposedly a bigot, falling for a woman of color?  And a Muslim to boot?

6.Could you please share some of our favorite moments for the character of Fred from Little Mosque’s current fifth season?

This is weird, because it was a little thing, but in Episode 503 titled ‘Kept Imam’, there was a scene where Fred, the Mayor, Manoj and Rev. Thorne were playing  bridge at the Manse.  It’s a very funny scene and we had an absolute hoot shooting it.  Debra McGrath is one of the funniest people I know, and when she and I get together on set, we can’t stop laughing.  Also, that scene had one of the funniest lines I think the writers ever came up with.  Sarah comes running into the Manse and sees all of us playing in a card game she has been cut out of .  She accuses the Rev of betraying her and Thorne comes back with the line:  “I’m sorry Sarah, but in my defence, I didn’t think you’d find out.”  Loved that, and Brandon delivered it perfectly.

7. The character of Fred is one who has previously exhibited signs of affection towards Fatema. What are your thoughts on Fred’s attraction towards Fatema? Could you please share your thoughts on yon the possibility of Fred pursuing  a romantic relationship  with her and what  challenges do you think Fred would have to encounter should he ever decide to  pursue this relationship?

Funny, that this question is here, after me bringing it up earlier.  Like I said, I love the whole idea.  In fact, I would love to push for an on-screen kiss between the two…I know this is supposed to be the 21st century…but that would definitely ruffle a few feathers.  But it would be so much fun to see Fred bending and reshaping himself all in the name of love.

8. Little Mosque on the Prairie has achieved international success , airing in over 68 countries as well  as in Canada, with the series premiere, earning a CBC .record breaking viewership of 2. 1 million. What impact do you think Little Mosque on the Prairie has had on Canadian culture and why do you think viewers have resonated with the series so well?

I think initially viewers were just plain curious.  Muslims?  A comedy about Muslims?  Muslims being funny???  After all, the only Muslims most people on  TV had been watching up to that point were firing AK-47’s into the air.  So I think there was a definite curiosity factor at first.  But people grew to love the show and the characters.  One of the things that the show has been accused of from time to time, is that it is too sweet.  Personally it’s the sweetness that I love most…and I think that resonates most with viewers.  People get enough edgy and realistic elsewhere on the dial. I think most people love to see humans working it all out.  I’m not at all ashamed of happy endings.

9.How has being a cast member on this series impacted your career and  how has it influenced your personal perspective on the Muslim community?

No question the show has raised my profile, certainly here in Canada.  It never hurts to be part of a hit.  And even though I’ve done a ton of television and film, I’ve never been a part of a show that received the kind of buzz Little Mosque did.  On a personal note, I love to tell this story:

One night my wife and I and some friends were eating in an Indian Restaurant in downtown Toronto.  We were having a wonderful time, gabbing away, enjoying the food, when I noticed someone standing beside our table.  I looked, and there was a little girl, about 7 or 8 maybe. She was standing with her Dad behind her, holding her shoulders for support and she was shyly trying to bury herself in his pant legs.  He gently turned her towards me and said ‘Go ahead sweetheart, tell him what you wanted to say’.  The little girl turned and said, very quietly ‘I really like you and your show’.

I was dumbfounded and delighted.  The family were obviously Muslim, as I noticed the Mom, not far away, wearing the Hijab.  So, she had watched our show…seen the kind of goof I play, and still wanted to tell me she loved me and the show.  That’s when I knew we were doing something right.

10. With Little Mosque on the Prairie approaching its  final season,  what plans or aspirations do you  have for the future of your career?

My son once came home from school when he was little and asked me if we were rich.  I said, why do you ask that?  He said that the kids at school said that because I was a television actor we must be rich.  I told my son, that Daddy is a Canadian television actor.  Canadian television actors aren’t rich!

I will continue to do as I’ve always done, keep auditioning, with many irons in many fires.  I do a lot of public, motivational speaking and I also write, I have a syndicated newspaper column that keeps me busy as well, and there are always new projects.  I love the diversity of being an artist.  There’s always something new and interesting coming down the pike.

11.Are there any other acting projects, which you have recently been working on which you would like to share with viewers?

Yes, definitely.  I just finished the first season of a very funny program for the Family Channel called Really Me.  It’s a great little show that will be premiering on April 23rd.  Tune in.

12. What message  would you like to convey to  fans of the series?

Just, essentially what I think the main thrust of the show is…underneath it all, we are all the same.  So live your life and treat others as you would wish to be treated…with love and respect.

13.What activities do you enjoy during your spare time?

I love to read and to write.  I have two dogs that I adore and who make me laugh constantly.  I love to canoe, fish, play golf and ride my bike.  I love going to the theatre and watching movies.  I love being a father to my two wonderful boys.

 

Interview With Little Mosque on the Prairie’s Sitara Hewitt

Friday, December 10, 2010 @ 03:12 PM
Abbas Karimjee[ Administrator/ Owner]

Actress Sitara Hewitt has been leading a distinguished career. Having been a dancer, host, model and an actor, the delightful actress has now been bringing her talents to CBC’s hit sitcom, Little Mosque on the Prairie, as the devout, Rayyan Hamoudi.

With the actress being kind enough to participate in an interview with us and Little Mosque on the Prairie approaching its fifth season for January 2011, we took the opportunity to discuss her character and the series in general. In particular, we discuss how she connects with the character of Rayaan, her view on how the character has developed over the course of the series, what is in store for the fifth season of Little Mosque on the Prairie and much more.

1.Your mother’s side of the family has an Islamic background and you spent a few years as a child in the Himalayan mountains of Pakistan. How has this part of your background helped you relate to your character and overcome some of the challenges in portraying Rayyan?

Staying in the Himalayan villages with my mother while she did her PhD and studied the people’s lives for her book was an incredible experience. I met some of the most generous, kind people who live in complete synchronicity with nature – we could learn a lot from them. They were all devout Muslims. I learned a lot about how and why women cover their heads, and a great deal about modesty and devotion. And I learned to be very comfortable in a ‘Chador’ or Hijab!

2. How do you think Rayyan has developed over the course of the series?

Rayyan has grown up over the years.  She started off as more naive, then after an engagement that didn’t work out she became more focused on her career and being a good person for herself, and not for a man. While she remains quirky and sarcastic, she has also become less immature, and more compassionate and relaxed. As we all do as we grow.

3.  In last year’s season finale, Rayaan and Amaar finally professed their love for each other. What was your reaction when you found out about this storyline and why do you they think they waited so long?

I was delighted. It just felt right. . and I think they waited so long so that viewers would enjoy the anticipation. (smile)

4. Can you please give us an idea as to what story lines and surprises are in store for the fifth season of Little Mosque on the Prairie, both in terms of the series in general and for Rayyan?

Mmmm, well I can’t say much though I’d love to.  Rayyan and Amaar take the next step and getting to know each other in a dynamic (with chaperones hehe) that they both never dreamed that would occur. It’s not always a smooth ride though . . .  Oh, and Thorne is a lot nicer and human. Two favorite characters make a surprise return as well. It’s a really nice season.

5. Do you have a message for fans of the series, which you would like to convey?

Thank you for giving this show a chance, and for being so loyal. It’s a concept that has never been done before, and though we may not please everyone we truly love making this show, and hope you all continue to enjoy it.