Kadia Saraf talks women in film today

Kadia Saraf is a seasoned actor and writer who has made a name for herself in the entertainment industry. As a woman writer in film and TV, she is part of a growing movement of women who are making their voices heard and telling their stories through their work.

Saraf's career began in acting, and she has appeared in several TV shows and films, including “Law & Order: SVU,” “FBI: International,” and “Blue Bloods.” However, more recently she has been developing a limited TV series period piece about her Jewish heritage called “Shoshana,” the powerful story of one woman who saved her children from persecution in the 1930’s.

We caught up with Kadia to find out more...

Welcome Kadia, can you tell us about the story of ‘Shoshana” and how it came to life?
Shoshana is a true story about my great-grandmother in Yemen in the 1930’s. She was married young, as they did back then and was widowed at 23 with seven children. In Yemen at the time there was a law that said that any orphaned Jewish child before the age of puberty was to be converted and given to a Muslim family. It was an existential threat to the Jewish community. My great-Grandmother devised a way to save her children, who were considered orphans because their father had died. It’s an epic story about her resilience and determination to keep her family safe and ultimately to immigrate to what would become the state of Israel.

The story came to life for me when I sat down with my grandmother, Leah, in Tel Aviv. She shared stories about her mother, Shoshana, and as I listened, I began to feel a real desire, a need to tell her story! From there, I delved into the research and pieced together the story.

What makes this story so important to tell, in your opinion?
For me, this story is personal because it's my family's history, my Jewish heritage, and I feel it’s essential to share the stories of our ancestors and the challenges they faced. But beyond that, I believe it's crucial to shed light on the deep-rooted connection between the Jewish and Muslim communities in Yemen that dates back centuries.

How do you approach the historical accuracy of the story?
During COVID-19 lockdown, I did a lot of research into the history and culture of Yemen during the time period in which the story takes place. I consulted with family members, experts, and historians to ensure that the details were accurate and authentic. About two years ago, a friend of mine connected me with Dr. Abdulwahab Alkebsi, the great-grandson of Imam Yahya, the ruler of Yemen at the time. He’s been a tremendously valuable source of knowledge and we have since become friends. I mean, how much more hopeful can this project be when the descendants of the protagonist and antagonists are now friends! Full circle!

What do you hope people will take away from “Shoshana”?
I hope viewers will be inspired by Shoshana's bravery and resourcefulness in protecting her family during such a difficult time. I also hope they will see the shared humanity between people of different faiths and cultures, and the power of coming together in the face of adversity.

Why did you choose television as a platform over film or a book?
I considered just about every platform, believe me. It started as a film, but I quickly realized that there are too many details to squeeze into two hours. Television provides an opportunity to bring the story to life in a comprehensive way that allows viewers to connect with the characters and their experiences. The longer format also allows for more in-depth exploration of the story and the historical context.

Where does the project stand now?
My team and I are pitching it at the moment in hopes to find the right home for it to be made.

Do you believe the industry provides a platform for women's voices?
I think the industry has come a long way in providing a platform for women's voices, but despite progress in recent years, there is still a long way to go to achieve gender parity and equal opportunities for women. It's essential to continue to support and uplift women’s voices, and to push for greater diversity and inclusion in all areas of the industry.

Lastly, what advice would you give young women pursuing a career in film and TV?
Never, ever give up on your dreams. And persevere, even when faced with obstacle after obstacle. Doubt, fear, failure, rejection, all of it. Never give up! It's important to seek out mentors and allies who can support and guide you along the way. Networking is also critical, so take advantage of opportunities to meet and connect with people in the industry. And most importantly, believe in yourself and your unique voice and perspective. The world needs more stories from diverse voices, and women can play a vital role in shaping the future of film and TV.

For up to date information on Kadia Saraf follow her: IMDb, Instagram, and her website is kadiasaraf.com