‘We Are Lady Parts’: Creator Nida Manzoor Talks Assembling Her Muslim Punk Group, Nuanced Approach To Depicting Religion On-Screen – ATX
The punk-rocking ladies of Peacock and Channel 4’s We Are Lady Parts came together to talk casting, Muslim representation on-screen and more at ATX Television Festival on Sunday.
Creator Nida Manzoor kicked off the conversation, moderated by Vanity Fair’s Sonia Saraiya, explaining how We Are Lady Parts came to be. Manzoor shared the show drew inspired by her music-filled childhood and strong women in her life, then explained that the series required engaging talent who knew their way around instruments – or would at least be willing to learn how to play.
“A lot of the actors didn’t play their instruments,” she said, before adding that brother Shez Manzoor, who co-writes the series’ original numbers with sister Sanya, taught the actresses how to play over Zoom lessons.
The series stars Anjana Vasan, Sarah Impey, Juliette Motamed, Faith Omole and Lucie Shorthouse. Only a couple of the actresses had experience with music prior to the series. Through countless rehearsals and practice sessions and the communal experience of failing and succeeding at music, the new-to-playing actresses were able to play the songs themselves by the end of the series.
As vital as music may be to the comedy series, chemistry between talent plays an equally important role in We Are Lady Parts, Manzoor added.
“For it me it was so important because I think the show lives and dies in the chemistry in the the band at the heart of it,” she said.
Manzoor noted that she was shaping her leading group of actresses “from women that I know and that I love,” and said it was an “overwhelming” thrill to finding actors who can embody her original characters, one of whom dons a niqab.
Vasan, who stars as Anima, said that the series showcases the different ways Muslim women can practice their religion, without making a whole plot of it. With Luci Shorthouse’s Momtaz, Manzoor said that the audience doesn’t need to rely on seeing all of the character to get to know her.
“One thing I was really excited to do was actually not reveal too much of her through the show,” she said. “By the end of the show you love her and you haven’t really seen her face. You still know her.”
From brining her family’s love of music on-screen to highlighting the varying practices of Muslim women, Manzoor said We Are Lady Parts is a an ode to the “badass and rad” women in her life.
“This is ultimately a celebration of the women I love and i have drawn from people l love and I wanted to show them as awesome wonderful people,” she said.
We Are Lady Parts is produced by NBCU-backed Working Title Television. Executive producers for WTTV are Surian Fletcher-Jones, Mark Freeland, Tim Bevan, and Eric Fellner. The series is produced by John Pocock. NBCUniversal Global Distribution reps globally.
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