A lawyer turned comedian based in Karachi, has made a name for herself as the first female social media entertainer to pursue stand-up comedy in Pakistan. She also led and trained The Khawatoons, the subcontinent’s first all-female comedy troupe.
Having been active on television, Faiza made her film debut with the comedy film “Parchi.” Her comedic journey began with the creation of “Pseudo Burger Diaries” and making memes. She gained attention with her video “Baji…eww,” which humorously highlighted the contrasts between Defense and Nazimambad.
Faiza’s content tackles deep-rooted gender stereotypes, body shaming, and other societal issues. She joined the improv comedy troupe and later ventured into regular stand-up comedy shows. The all-female improv troupe, “The Khawatoons,” has performed in different cities of Pakistan.
In addition to theater and social media work, Faiza has appeared on TV, playing Rashk-e-Qamar in “Dildaariyaan” and making cameo appearances. She also created an interview-based web series, “Doodhpatti with Dadi,” and “2-minutes with Faiza Saleem.”
Social Diary had the privilege of gaining insights into Faiza’s life and work experiences. This interview provides a glimpse into her journey. Presenting our all-time favorite, Faiza Saleem.
What was your childhood like?
As the youngest of four siblings, my childhood was cherished and pampered. I spend a lot of time in Germany, so most of my early memories are from there. Although my childhood was mostly good, I faced bullying in school, which led me to develop certain bullying habits in return.
What made you start a career as a comedian/YouTuber?
I have always been passionate about performing arts. As a child, I would prepare sketches and speeches at home, and as I grew older, I participated in contests, plays, and dramas. I began with theater and then ventured into improv comedy, stand-up comedy, and sketches. The internet opened up new opportunities for me, and I transitioned into becoming a comedian turned influencer.
Do you still practice law?
No, I don’t. Practicing law requires a significant amount of time and energy, and I cannot handle two high-pressure jobs simultaneously.
What’s your most memorable project?
One of my most memorable projects was working on a global initiative called “Dasani Heroes” with Dasani. Different teams from around the world came together, making it a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
What changes do you want to see in the industry?
I want normal, everyday stories to be mainstreamed. Plays should focus on stories rather than solely revolving around heroes and heroines. All stories should be told and all kind of characters should be given main leads.
How do you develop characters, especially your famous ‘Aunty’ character?
I observe people around me and try to add unique elements such as changing my voice or incorporating distinct physical traits like eye or hand movements. Sometimes, I use props to enhance the character. I also assign names to the characters and practice their reactions based on those names, imagining how Mrs. Ruby Kamal or Gul Afshan would respond. It’s all about the little details coming together.
What do you believe makes a performance believable?
Believing in the character being portrayed and connecting it to real-life experiences is what makes a performance believable. The more an actor connects with the character, the more it comes to life.
What has been the most challenging role you’ve played?
Recently, I did a sitcom with Hina Dilpazirr, and the overall commitment required for a sitcom was challenging. It involved long working hours, scheduling coordination with all the actors, and other logistical considerations.
What has been your favorite role so far, and why?
From mainstream projects, my favorite role has been in “Hum Sab Ajeeb Se Hain.” It’s a complete season of 26 episodes, and playing a character for such an extended period automatically makes you fall in love with it. Additionally, since I rarely do mainstream television, this character holds a special place in my heart.
Do you think artists have a responsibility to convey a positive message through their work?
Yes and no. While it’s important for artists to convey the right messages since many people look up to them, it shouldn’t be an obligation imposed by social media. Putting excessive societal pressure on artists when they have more pressing issues is unfair. However, whenever possible, we should strive to convey positive messages to our audience, as we do have an impact on them.
Have you ever declined a project due to content or message concerns?
I often say ‘no’ to projects when the idea or the team doesn’t align with my values or beliefs. I also refuse endorsements for products I don’t believe in or know to have harmful effects. I am particular about truthful marketing and value-adding products.
Who are your favorite actors and actresses, and why do they inspire you?
I admire Hina Dilpazirr and Bushra Ansari because they are not only exceptional at what they do but also breaking barriers as female comedians in our country.
Despite female comedian having less respect, being the butt of jokes, or being relegated to side characters, these both women are owning this genre of the industry with respect and dignity, paving the way for others.
What impact do you hope your work will have on the audience?
I already have an impact on my audience, and I strive to spread positivity, gratitude, and empathy through my work. In the long run, I want my work to reflect empathy, love, and inclusiveness. Kindness and values are crucial for society.
What are some behind-the-scenes aspects of acting/the industry that people might be surprised to learn?
Acting is not all glamour; it involves extensive work. Shooting in various weather conditions, enduring long hours, and managing time can be challenging. Maintaining a social life outside of work is rare unless you actively put effort into balancing all aspects of your life. It’s a serious commitment.
How do you handle personal criticism about your work?
I view criticism in two aspects: destructive and constructive. Destructive criticism rarely affects me, as it usually comes from a place with ill intentions. However, if the criticism is constructive, I consider it and try to implement it in my work when possible.
What do you believe is the most challenging aspect of being an actor?
The most challenging aspect is continually reinventing oneself. After being in the industry for ten years, audiences have seen a lot, so sticking to one thing would become monotonous for both the audience and me. I want my audience to get to know me better and keep things interesting. It’s important to keep reinventing oneself.
How do you deal with online trolling?
Sometimes, I try to reason with trolls if it’s worth it, but if not, I simply block them. Educating an online bully is often futile.
What do you think is more important for a successful actor: talent or training?
Both talent and training are crucial. Talent without training lacks refinement, and training without talent leads to limited success. However, if I had to choose, I believe training and hard work tend to be more successful than untrained talent and intelligence.
How does it feel to be a celebrity? Can you share an interesting fan story?
I don’t consider myself a celebrity; I see myself as a “celebrated person” for some people. It brings me joy and keeps me grounded when someone approaches me with excitement. I make an effort to spend time with my fans, not just taking a quick selfie. Also I read somewhere that ‘Wholesome people have wholesome fans’. So I feel that I am blessed to have attracted the right kind of audience.
There was a memorable moment when I was spotted in a mall, and a fan couldn’t contain their excitement and started crying and howling with excitement and joy. That incident made me realize how blessed I am to receive such a level of respect. I’ve also experienced other sweet gestures from fans, such as one fan paying my restaurant bill without my knowledge. Alhamdulillah, I have amazing fans.