This dystopian horror movie about Islamophobia is a terrifying cautionary tale
It’s the Handmaid’s Tale of America’s growing anti-Muslim sentiments
A portrayal of the anti-Muslim sentiment spreading through the United States right now, The Invaders is a brand new short film borrowing techniques from horror and science-fiction genres to depict the issue in a modern way.
On her way home, Jayla, a Muslim American teenager played by actress Isra Elsalihie, notices she’s being followed. As feelings of terror take over, Jayla struggles to escape a powerful force.
Today, we spoke with Isra about the movie, her role and why it’s so important in this exact moment.
How did you begin acting?
When I graduated high school I immediately got accepted to Med School in Sweden, where I was born and raised. I quickly realized that becoming a doctor wasn’t my destiny. I always wanted to be an actor, but it wasn’t until this time in my life that I realized I had to pursue it.
I knew I wanted to go to New York to study and start my career. I come from a impoverished family, so I couldn’t just pick up and leave, I had to work four jobs a week doing pretty much anything you can imagine. I did this until I was able to pay for my tuition.
Why does this role matter so much to you?
I’ve had the privilege of being able to work on many different characters and especially middle eastern- American women. I once worked on a piece from 9 Parts of Desire by Heather Raffo, a monologue about an Iraqi woman who lost all her children during an air strike, and I had never felt more alive and aware of the world. This in turn inspired me to continue working on roles like these.
I am an Swedish-Iraqi woman, and as an actor I love to play any character, but to me it’s important to tell the stories that are not told very often.
What was the hardest thing about this film?
Eventually I got to NY and I did a two year acting program at The Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute. During that time, I didn’t do any auditions — I wanted to focus on the art. This was one of my first big budget short films where I was lead actor, so it was the responsibility.
I didn’t want to disappoint anyone on the team and I wanted to do the character justice. The 14 hours straight shooting day was pretty tiring as well, but as an artist I’m just happy to be able to reflect the time we’re in.
What are you looking forward to next?
At the moment I’m working on getting my artist O1 visa so I can continue working in the US. Other than that I’m just excited to see what the world throws at me next.
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