Maysoon Zayid

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Maysoon Zayid (Arabic: ميسون زايد‎) is an actress, comedian and activist. She was born in New Jersey in 1974.[1] She described herself in a BBC interview as "a Palestinian Muslim virgin with cerebral palsy, from New Jersey, who is an actress, comedian and activist".[2] Zayid has been a resident of Cliffside Park, New Jersey.[3] She is considered one of America's first Muslim women comedians and the first person ever to perform standup in Palestine and Jordan.[4]

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Acting career

Zayid earned her BFA in acting from Arizona State University. She started her acting career by appearing on the popular soap opera As the World Turns for two years, as well as guest appearances on Law & Order, NBC Nightly News and ABC's 20/20.[5] Zayid also had a role in the 2008 Adam Sandler film, You Don't Mess with the Zohan.

In the fall of 2006, Maysoon debuted her one-woman show Little American Whore (LAW) at Los Angeles's Comedy Central stage; it was produced and directed by Kathy Najimy. In 2008, LAW's screenplay was chosen for the Sundance Screenwriters Lab. Production began with Maysoon as the lead in the fall of 2009.

Comedy and activism

During her early acting experiences, she found her disability and ethnicity repeatedly limiting to her advancement.[6] Zayid then turned to stand-up and began appearing at New York's top clubs, including Caroline's, Gotham, and Stand Up NY, where she takes on serious topics such as terrorism and the Israel-Palestine conflict.

She co-founded the New York Arab-American Comedy Festival in 2003 with comedian Dean Obeidallah.[7] This highly acclaimed, first-of-its-kind festival has received national and international media coverage. It is held annually in New York City and showcases Arab-American comics, actors, playwrights and filmmakers.

She usually tours by herself or as a special guest on the Axis of Evil Comedy Tour. She also co-hosts the radio show "Fann Majnoon" (Arabic: فن مجنون‎) (Crazy Art) with Obeidallah.

Maysoon can also be seen in the upcoming documentary, The Muslims Are Coming!, which features a group of Muslim American stand up comedians touring the United States in an effort to counter Islamophobia. The film also features various celebrities including Jon Stewart, David Cross, Janeane Garofalo, Rachel Maddow and others.

She appeared on Countdown with Keith Olbermann several times and on the Melissa Harris-Perry end-of-2012 wrap-up show on December 30, as part of a panel of comedian commentators.

Charity work

Zayid spends three months a year in the Palestinian territories, running an arts program for disabled and orphaned children in refugee camps. She helps the children use art to deal with trauma and bridge the gap between disabled and non-disabled children. Eighty percent of the funding for the camps comes from her comedy work.[8]

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