Creative, Deaf & Muslim: Challenging Inclusion, Sahera Khan

Sahera Khan is Muslim, Deaf and British South Asian, her native language is British Sign Language. She lives in London and is a freelance writer/creator, artist/actress, filmmaker and YouTuber.


Sahera’s first breakthrough professional performance was at the Victoria and Albert Museum in a pop-up performance The Fruit and Vegetable Olympics in Spring 2019. She is a member of 1623 Theatre Company and is a trustee and Media Relations Officer for the Deaf Ethnic Women’s Association, supporting D/deaf Ethnic women and girls to achieve better quality of life, rights, education and employment. She also does occasional support work with D/deaf children.


We talk to Sahera about her journey into the creative industries, how the creative sector can be more accessible and how her faith influences her creative practice.


You have a multiplicity of creative skills including writing, acting and filmmaking. How did you develop a career in the creative sector?

My creativity was learnt through education, as I joined short courses to develop my writing which then went onto writing my own stories which I thoroughly enjoy. I wrote nine kindle books and my short film ‘He Stood Me Up’ for BSL Zone and was commissioned. This then led me into acting and filmmaking, which I had developed through short courses and workshops. This experience built my confidence and my creative skills, however, I am still learning and attending some courses, workshops and researching information.



As a Muslim, Deaf and British South Asian woman, how does your identity affect your creative practice?

My identity is very important such as my religion and being deaf, of course there are some barriers being deaf within my creative practice. Such as accessing hearing creative industries. For example I need British Sign Language Interpreter, it is also rare to find Muslim roles for the stage or screen.



Your native language is British Sign Language, do you feel the arts and cultural sector accommodate people who are deaf or does more need to be done in terms of access and inclusion?

Yes and no. It really depends on whether organisations can offer access and inclusion including paying for BSL Interpreters. I feel it is important everyone is included; diversity should be both accessible and inclusive in the creative sector.


How does your faith as a Muslim influence your creative practice?

My faith is important to me, my writing, acting and videos relate to my faith. I have written and performed a short play ‘Am I Dulhan Yet?’ and I adapted a storytelling piece ‘The Cockerel and the Fox’ which explore my identity through faith. My faith influences me to allow creativity in my stories and experience.



What do you enjoy most, writing, acting and filmmaking and why?

I enjoy acting the most, because when I was young I always want to be actor. As I matured and understood the entertainment industry and arts cultural sector better, I realised it could relate to my faith. I like to read the scripts, filmed, meeting new people and I liked to see my face on a variation of screens.


You recently premiered your new show No Words, No Safety about Deaf and Disabled women’s safety. What do you hope the audience gains from the show?

I hope the audience understood that my work as a BSL performer was relevant to recent events taken place in the United Kingdom. I hope it impacted women about their safety and to escape from dangerous situations such as domestic violence.



What is the most memorable moment of your career so far?

My most memorable moment of my career was ‘Throwaways’ (on stage) from Lambert Jackson production. It was an amazing and high profile production with performers from the West End.


As a volunteer trustee and Media Relations Officer for the Deaf Ethnic Women’s Association, you support D/deaf Ethnic women and girls to achieve better quality of life, rights, education and employment. Why is this important to you?

Deaf Ethnic Women’s Association (DEWA) is a campaign to support deaf women and their rights, it is important to me to support DEWA and supporting women. This is a very unique organisation and rare. Through my support, I have also learnt about DEWA and receive regular updates and training, including how we support, how to apply for grants. Through my role, I have learnt about different issues such as forced marriage, mental health and isolation.


What does the future of Islamic arts and culture look like to you? What are the opportunities and potential?

Inshallah, I would like to see more Muslim creative’s in arts and culture; theatres, TV and films, also to stop the negative portrayal of Muslims on film. I would like to see Deaf Muslim artists and hearing Muslim artist’s integrate and also encourage hearing artists to learn British Sign Language and Deaf Awareness. Finally, potentially create a platform for Muslim Creative’s Directory over the world for opportunities to network and more.


For more information check out https://sahera1.tumblr.com/


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