Episode 18: Who Am I?

A monologue about a young woman grappling with her identity after a friend is attacked starts a conversation about being Muslim in America. Featuring conversations with the writer Ruya Erkut, a freshman at George Washington Carver, and her mother, Ebru Erkut, who works as a paralegal at an immigration firm. This is a personal episode about growing up and parenting as a Muslim in the current, fraught political climate. 

Do not tell me I should cover my hair up or change, I will not. Do not tell me how pale I am or that I look like you. I am not you. I am a mixture of my parents’ heritage and my American upbringing.
— from "Who Am I?" by Ruya Erkut
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Further Reading & Resources

WATCH: A video from the Pew Research Center offers a look inside the beliefs and attitudes of Muslims in America, featuring data from Pew Research Center's 2017 survey, as well as the personal stories of Muslims from across the United States.

About the Performer



Shahana is a Pakistani actress based in New York City. Originally from Islamabad, Shahana began her career in the Theatre in the country’s capital at the age of 16 when she signed on her first commercial theatrical role as ‘Lucy’ in the adaptation of ‘Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
Since then she has worked in acclaimed stage productions such as ‘Grease’, ‘The Producers’, ‘The Lion King’, and ‘Moulin Rouge’ to name a few.

Shahana joined the sketch group ‘The Insolent Knights’ for which she wrote and performed live shows as a regular member for TinyTwo Productions

Her film debut  was in the internationally acclaimed ‘Slackistan’ (Dir. Hammad Khan) which premiered at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival.

Amongst her other artistic pursuits, she also hosted the primetime radio show ‘The Rush Hour’ for Pakistan’s premier english radio network CityFM89. During this time, she produced various web sketches and shorts which eventually led her to study Film & Television Production in Cape Town, South Africa.

Upon its completion, Shahana trained at the prestigious Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute in New York City.

With her career in the Entertainment Industry spanning over a decade, she has worked in various production capacities in countries such as Pakistan, Turkey, Serbia, Italy, South Africa, Thailand, Kazakhstan and the United States. Her work has been televised in both Pakistan and the United States.


"Who Am I?" was performed by Shahana Jan under the direction of David O'Connor for the 2018 Mouthful Monologue Festival. Accompaniment by Daniel De Jesus.