Posted by on June 18, 2013 in Blog

By: Margaret Lowry

Summer 2013 Intern

With last month’s release on Netflix of season 4 of the former Fox cult comedy Arrested Development, buzz about the show has flooded twitter feeds, Facebook pages and pop culture blogs. One fact that might have escaped your notice is that Alia Shawkat, who plays Maeby Fünke, the smart and rebellious niece of Michael Bluth, is Arab American.

Born in Los Angeles to an Iraqi father and an Irish-Norwegian mother, Alia knew from an early age that she wanted to act. When she was 9, she convinced her mother to get a set of headshots and begin contacting agents. At first, the Shawkats were met with resistance. In an interview for Arab American Stories with Detroit Public TV, Alia recalls being told by agents that she “was a little too ethnic for anything that we have right now.” Her first role was a small part as the daughter of Amir in the 1999 movie Three Kings. At 13, Alia was cast in a starring role on Fox Family’s State of Grace.

Alia is best known for her work on Arrested Development, where her portrayal of Maeby has received positive reviews from critics and fans alike. Since Arrested Development ended its run on Fox in 2006, Alia has compiled a solid resume of Hollywood and independent films including Amreeka, Ruby Sparks and Drew Barrymore’s Whip It. The characters she portrays are smart, passionate and, occasionally, Arab American.

Recently, Alia has begun exploring her passion for art through drawing and painting. Her work has been featured in numerous galleries and one of her paintings was sold at a charity auction for the WorldChild Project in Los Angeles. This past February she began hosting Artist’s Talk, a web series for the Museum of Contemporary Art in which she interviews famous artists in their studios.

You can catch Alia on Season 4 of Arrested Development on Netflix.

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