Top 15 South Asian Role Models for 2015
- Waris Ahluwalia is an American designer and actor. He was born in Amritsar, Punjab, India. Waris is currently based in New York City. He hails from a Sikh family.
- Aziz Ansari is an American actor and comedian. He was born in Columbia, South Carolina. His family is Tamil Muslim from Tamil Nadu, India.
- Shabana Azmi is an Indian actress and a social and women’s rights activist. She was born in Hyderabad, India. She hails from a Muslim family.
- Mindy Kaling is an American actress, comedian, and writer. She was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Mindy has a Tamil father and a Bengali mother who are both Hindus.
- Aamir Khan is an Indian actor, producer, director, and screenwriter. He was born in Mumbai, India. Aamir hails from a Muslim family.
- Shaun Majumder is a Canadian comedian and actor. He was born in Burlington, Newfoundland. Shaun’s mother is a European Canadian from Newfoundland and his father is Bengali Hindu from West Bengal, India.
- Manny Malhotra is a Canadian hockey player with the Montreal Canadians. He was born in Mississauga, Ontario. Manny’s father was born in Lahore, British India (Pakistan) and his mother is French Canadian.
- Deepa Mehta is a Canadian Oscar-nominated film director and screenwriter. She was born in Amritsar, Punjab, India. Deepa was raised in a Hindu family.
- Michael Ondaatje is a Canadian novelist and poet. He was born in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Michael is of Burgher ancestry which is a Eurasian ethnic group in Sri Lanka.
- Russell Peters is a Canadian comedian and actor. He was born in Toronto, Ontario. Russell is Catholic and Ango-Indian descent.
- Lisa Ray is a Canadian actress, model, and social activist. She was born in Toronto, Ontario. Lisa has a Bengali Hindu father and a Polish mother.
- Sugar Sammy is a Canadian comedian, actor, writer, and producer. He is from Montreal, Quebec. Sugar is of Punjabi descent. He often uses English, French, Punjabi, and Hindi in his stand-up routine.
- Vandana Shiva is an Indian environmental activist and anti-globalization author. She was born in Dehradun which is the capital city of the state of Uttarakhand in the northern part of India. Vandana is from a Hindu family.
- Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani advocate for female education and the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate. She was born in the Swat District of Pakistan’s northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Malala is a Pashtun Muslim.
- Muhammad Yunus is a Bangladeshi social entrepreneur, banker, and economist. He received the Nobel Peace Prize for pioneering microcredit and microfinance for the poor. He was born in the village of Bathua in Bangladesh. Muhammad is a Muslim.
Oh yes and honourable mention goes to the British South Asians from across the pond—Salman Rushdie, Sir Ben Kingsley, Jay Sean, and Zayn Malik—and of course the American film director, screenwriter, and producer who is breaking down barriers in Hollywood, M. Night Shyamalan.