24 Pakistanis That Made It to Hollywood

These days, you often hear about Pakistani actors starring in Bollywood movies. That’s cool and everything, but what about giving some love to our stars that made it all the way to Hollywood? After all, there’s no bigger stage than Hollywood in the entertainment industry (sorry Bollywood fans).

1. Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

The musical maestro needs no introduction. Arguably the biggest export of Pakistani entertainment industry, he performed at a number of famous venues and played his role in portraying a positive image of the country. He has performed to packed crowds in Paris, Japan, New York, Washington and collaborated with Peter Gabriel, Michael Brooke and Eddie Vedder among others. You can hear some of the Ustaad’s music in several movies such as Dead Man Walking, Natural Born Killers, Any Given Sunday and several others.

2. Strings

With Bilal Maqsood and Faisal Kapadia as the band members, this band got their big break in Hollywood with ‘Spiderman 2’ (those who follow movies, from the original Toby Maguire’s version of the Spiderman movies) as their song Najanay Kyun was featured in it. This led them to play many more high profile gigs, Coke Studio Pakistan being the most recent one (the latest season of which is looking pretty solid).

3. Faran Haroon Tahir

This actor was born into an acting family in Los Angeles, California. Since then he has amassed an impressive list of achievements under his belt. These include roles in high profile movies like ‘The Jungle Book’, ‘Picture Perfect’, ‘A Price Above Rubies’, ‘Anywhere But Here’, ‘ABCD’, ‘A Town Without Pity’, ‘Manticore’, ‘Charlie Wilson’s War’,  ‘Iron Man’, ‘Star Trek’, ‘Ashes’, ‘Elysium’, ‘Torn’, ‘Escape Plan’, ‘Mr. Jones’ and most recently ‘Jinn’.

4. Meesha Shafi

With her role in ‘The Reluctant Fundamentalist’ she shone among big name stars like Kate Hudson, Liev Schreiber, Shabana Azmi and Om Puri. All this got her a huge amount of recognition, propelling her to super stardom in the country.

5. Atif Aslam

Now this guy has been the favorite singer of hundreds of thousands of fans from across the globe. Having made it big in Pakistan since his debut record came out, he now has three songs in the American independent film ‘Man Push Cart’. We wish him all the luck in leading a successful career.

 6. Mahnoor Baloch

Pakistani actress and model Mahnoor Baloch, also known as the lady who never ages, made her Hollywood screen debut alongside Faran Tahir in the movie, ‘Torn’. She has now successfully put people outside of Pakistan under her spell too and is looking at several projects from international productions.

7. Kamran Pasha

Kamran Pasha is a Hollywood screenwriter, director and novelist. He was the co-producer and writer for ‘Sleeper Cell’, has written The CW series ‘Nikita’ as well as Disney’s animated show ‘Tron Uprising’. Not only this, but he was also hired to rewrite the screenplay for ‘The Immaculate’. And did you know, he was born right here in Karachi!

8. Ayad Akhtar

A Pakistani-American actor and writer, his playwriting credits include ‘Disgraced’, ‘The Invisible Hand’ and ‘The Who and The What’. He is also a published novelist, with his debut being with the ‘American Dervish’ in 2012.

 9. Syma Chowdhry

No, not the one Bushra Ansari had us all in stitches with, this is an actual award winning host, reporter, producer, news writer, model, and actress and currently a news reporter in Philadelphia. She also appeared in a number of pageants and finished as third runner up. This Pakistani-Indian-American beauty was also placed 1st runner up in the Miss Pennsylvania, USA.

10. Kamran Rashid Khan

A hip hop artist from Detroit with Pakistani origins, he got featured in the  documentary called ‘The Real 8 Mile’ which focused on how he balances his life as a hip hop artist and as a medical student.

11. Ajmal Zaheer Ahmed

He is the co founder and current CEO of Detroit based film production company Exxodus Pictures. Some of his works include ‘Perfect Mismatch’ and ‘Jinn’, that also stars Faran Tahir.

12. Adnan Siddique

This guy is one of the leading heartthrobs of the Pakistani television industry, but did you also know he has shared screen space with Angelina Jolie? He played a small role alongside Jolie and Irfan Khan in the 2007 film ‘A Mighty Heart’.

13. Rahat Fateh Ali Khan

Nephew of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan’s contributions to Pakistan’s music scene are innumerable. He also became the first Pakistani to be invited to the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize ceremony to perform at its concert, the same year that brave Malala Yousafzai was awarded with a peace prize.

14. Taher Shah

Lol, but really. Perhaps his spectrum eyes played their part in casting a magic on Hollywood – that’s why the singer is rumored to debut in his Hollywood movie ‘Eye to Eye’ (we’re serious, promise!). Our eyes cannot wait for this certainly entertaining cinematic piece.

 15. Iqbal Theba

Iqbal is a Pakistani-American actor known for his recurring role in the famous, recently concluded, TV series ‘Glee’ where he appeared as Principal Figgins. He appeared in 58 episodes in the show having made a mark for himself among big names like Gwyneth Paltrow, Ricky Martin, Kate Hudson and Sara Jessica Parker among others.

16. Dilshad Vadsaria

Born in Pakistan, this actor is best known for her role on the ABC Family TV show ‘Greek’ where her turn as the bitchy, yet insecure sorority queen Rebecca Logan led her to be noticed by many. She also appeared in NCIS, Revenge, NCIS: Los Angeles and Bones along with the movie ’30 seconds or less’.

17. Art Malik

A Pakistani born British actor who achieved international fame in the 1980’s through roles in British and Merchant-Ivory television serials and films. He is especially remembered as the doomed Hari Kumar in ‘The Jewel in the Crown’.

18. Yousaf Bashir Qureshi

After doing extensive work in Pakistan, the designer moved to the United States where his work got noticed by Hollywood. His designs have impressed, and been worn by, the likes of Angelina Jolie, Sheryl Crow and Denzel Washington among many others.

19. Sajid Hassan

A Pakistani actor who started off as theater personality and then moved to television. Hassan’s work in Pakistan has gained him widespread recognition. He took a role in the Angelina Jolie-starrer ‘A Mighty Heart’, making inroads into Hollywood.

20. Gabe Grey

Born in Karachi, the birth name of this star is Syed Fuad Ahmed. He is an actor known for starring in films such as ‘The Haircut’, ‘One Last Shot’, and ‘Bomb Girls: Facing the Enemy’. The start has even modeled for names like Pablo B, among others.

 21. Saad Siddiqui

This star had humble beginnings and struggled financially during his early years. However, he did not let financial hurdles get in his way of superstar status in the world of sports. He became a three time Maryland State Champion in Tae Kwon Do and a silver medalist at the Junior Olympics. He later tried his hand at acting, starring in ‘Inescapable’ in 2012.

 22. Umar Khan

Umar Khan was born in Lahore on 7 June, 1982 and is known for his work on ‘Deliver Us From Evil’, ‘Captain America: Civil War’, and ‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay’, ‘District Voices’. We hope he keeps making us Pakistanis proud in the times to come.

23. Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy

The Oscar and Emmy winning Pakistani! The star has done a lot of hard work and played her part in making a positive contribution to Pakistan through her direction of important documentaries like ‘Saving Face’, ‘Song of Lahore’, and ‘Ho Yaqeen’. We wish her all the best in her future endeavors.

24. Mir Zafar Ali

This visual effects specialist has received plenty praise for his brilliant sequences in films like ‘The Golden Compass’, ‘Spiderman 3’, ‘X Men: First Class’ and ‘Life of Pi’ among many others. His latest recognition came in the form of an Academy Award for his work in ‘Frozen’ that cemented his status as a special effects superstar.

With all the Pakistanis who’ve been making waves at home and abroad, we wish and hope that many more talented folks can get recognized for their hardwork on bigger, international platforms. May all Pakistanis continue to make the country proud, always!