In the fall of 2016, The Secret Life of Muslims web series was launched, featuring 3-5 minute video profiles of notable Muslim Americans. The episodes, which are directed by filmmaker Joshua Seftel, can be streamed on the series website, Vox and the USA Today network.
The purpose of the videos is to show a different image of Muslim Americans from the common negative stereotypes in the media. As stated on The Secret Life of Muslim Facebook page: “This first person series uses humor and empathy to subvert stereotypes and reveal the truth about American Muslims: fascinating careers, unexpected talents, and inspiring accomplishments, providing a counter narrative to the rampant Islamophobia prevalent in the media.”
Each of the videos is filmed in a casual style with the participants standing in front of a white backdrop and sharing their stories. The intimate style of the videos and the engaging personalities of the participants allow viewers to connect to the individuals in the videos. Various clips and still images are interspersed throughout the video to illustrate the stories.
As of January 2017, seven episodes have been posted. Two are compilation videos that feature several famous Muslims talking about what it means to be a Muslim, the bizarre questions that they are often asked, and the harassment they often face in online spaces. There are also five separate episodes that profile various individuals, such as Dena Takruri, a broadcast journalist; Amani Al-Khatahtbeh, the creator of MuslimGirl.com; Rais Bhuiyan, the survivor of a hate attack after 9/11 and the founder of World Without Hate; Khalid Latif, a Muslim chaplain for the NYPD; and Ahmed Ahmed, a comedian and actor.
The videos work to humanize the participants, as they each get to share their own stories and their unique personalities. The episodes highlight the diversity of Muslim Americans and the positive work that Muslims contribute to American society. The participants are presented as positive, accomplished and intelligent individuals, but they also have real concerns, especially about the challenges they face in the current hostile political climate. All of the participants talk about specific issues that they deal with as Muslims from violent attacks to police profiling to ignorant comments in public.