Shidan has been working in New York’s film and theater industries since 1991. He begun as a volunteer at 52nd Street Project – an after school program focused on inner city youth telling their own stories through theater. Inspired by its empowerment and confidence-building scope, Shidan created One People Project – a conflict resolution-based theater receiving critical praise and support by NYC Mayor David Dinkins’ Stop the Violence Program. Shidan next created a spin-off in Canada for a racially-charged and conflicted suburb of Toronto in the late 90s. For the past eighteen years, he has been working on Broadway for Producer, Sir Cameron Mackintosh on some of the world’s most beloved musicals: CATS, LES MISÉRABLES, MISS SAIGON, THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA; and the recent Academy Award-winning film of LES MISÉRABLES starring Hugh Jackman. He was also the Associate Director of the North American tour of MISS SAIGON. In 2009, he made his producing debut off-Broadway on the hit musical, YANK! for which he was nominated by the Lucille Lortel, Outer Critics Circle, and Drama Desk Awards for Outstanding New Off-Broadway Musical.
Shahrzad Maghsoudloo Mirafzali
Twenty years ago, I walked into the dental operatory with my staff all wearing their white lab coats. My patient only glanced at me and turned to my male nurse and said “hi.” Because I was a female, he assumed that I was the nurse and he the doctor. At that moment, I realized that all my life I had been the “other.” Whether it was because I was a female in a male dominated field, or because I had a long name that few could properly pronounce, or because I had lived in Iran, France, U.S, and China and enjoyed each country and their peoples, or because I am a Bahá’í. It all didn’t matter. I only smiled at him, knowing that I was going to do my best for him and his oral health. I felt especially blessed that I was the “other”—a world citizen who believes that “the betterment of the world can be accomplished through pure and goodly deeds, through commendable and seemly conduct.”
Dino currently lives and works in New York City as Lead Flame Artist and Visual Effects Supervisor for award-winning Post Production Studio, Smoke & Mirrors. He has a keen eye for color, composition, and detail, combined with a strong understanding of CG processes and digital pipelines. By day he can be found lending his Visual Effects talents to high end television spots for AT&T, Wendy’s, Nike, Coca Cola, Hugo Boss, and John Varvatos. In addition to his commercial work, Dino has completed work on hit films such as Suicide Squad, Zoolander 2, and Live by Night. His work as VFX Supervisor was most recently put to use on CG heavy spots for Coca Cola brand, Fanta, as well as the primetime CBS drama, Madam Secretary. Dino also recently completed work for Nicki Minaj that premiered at the Met Gala. As an independent filmmaker, he showcases his photography and storytelling by directing short films and is currently developing a web series as writer/director.
I am a native Michigander who grew up in Ann Arbor. I earned my Bachelors from the University of Michigan in English Language and Literature and my Juris Doctor from Michigan State University (thought I still bleed Blue!). Growing up as a first-generation immigrant, Bahá’í by religion, and as a female in a male-dominated profession, the number of times I have experienced being different or told that I am less-than is far too great to count. As a teen, classmates would make fun of my culture and religion, making comments regarding fictitious rituals that are far-too-offensive to repeat. As a young woman in college and law school, my body was oftentimes not seen as my own as I experienced demeaning comments to unwanted touching on numerous occasions. As a lawyer at a large national law firm, many assumed I was support staff and would appear surprised when I informed them I am an attorney. And as a mother, many questioned (and still question) my decision to go back to work and my aggressive career goals. There are many people who can relate to my experiences and many cast members with whom I relate. I am honored and humbled to be working on a project that highlights and celebrates our differences. After all, we are each a flower in a beautiful rose garden, and a note in the most perfect melody.
I entered the field of medicine with the sincere desire to serve all people—regardless of race, gender, nationality, religion, or socio-economic class. This desire led my wife and I to live in China for 11 years. We made many wonderful local friends there and came to realize, more than ever before, that prejudice can be reduced in society by people just getting to truly know one another. The Chinese proved to be much different from the false impressions we had engrained into us about them throughout the years—I’m sure the same holds true for other cultures. Being a “foreigner” in China, I experienced first-hand what it felt like to be the “other.” I stood out in crowds; often couldn’t understand much of what was being said in parties, grocery stores or the streets; and felt like I was being innocently prejudged by some of the locals, based on their inaccurate assumptions and generalizations regarding “Westerners”—much of it based on what they had learned throughout the years! Our family returned to the U.S with an renewed vigor in trying to bring people together and reduce prejudice. We make a point to cultivate friendships with people of all backgrounds, cherish diversity and emphasize our commonalities as one human species. This documentary is one attempt to do just that.
Executive Producer/Director of Design & Marketing
My name is Nehemiah and I own and run a graphic design company called Nehemiah 9 Design that specializes in branding and print design. I am also the co-founder of Washtenaw Creatives which is an organization that aims to connect creative individuals from all over Washtenaw County. I moved to Ann Arbor in the summer of 2015 with my lovely wife and six-year-old son after living in China for twelve years where I taught English, art and design, studied Chinese and did some TV appearances briefly. It feels really strange to be back in my home state of Michigan after living outside of the U.S. for so long, but after being back for nearly two years, I’m starting to feel much more at ease. This film really speaks to me because it is so relatable and timely, as almost everyone has felt like an “other” at some point in their lives. My aim is to do everything in my power to make sure that every visual element of the design and marketing for this film matches the high standards that I feel a project like this deserves.
Fariba is a trained and certified make-up artist having worked on numerous films and entertainment projects internationally. Her career spans from being the lead Make-up Artist on numerous plays, television shows, and films in Iran and the United States. She currently lives in the U.S. and owns her own beauty salon in Great Falls, Virginia specializing in hair and make-up services. Fariba’s great love for the arts has her involved in planning and producing artistic events ranging from fine arts exhibitions to local television and theatrical productions as a volunteer. Having experienced and witnessed years of persecution as a religious minority in her native Iran, she is committed to giving voice to the voiceless and shedding light on justice through all her endeavors. She believes the arts are key to spiritual transformation and a ladder through which the soul can ascend to greater heights.
Director of Photography
Growing up in South Africa, and later immigrating to America has had a profound impact on Sloan Inns’ view of the world. Sloan has lived through the overthrow of an oppressive government and seen the struggle of his nascent nation coming to terms with its new freedom. This has forever impacted the way he tells stories. Sloan is an award-winning Director and DP, working on commercials and narrative. His work has taken him worldwide from India to Cambodia and all over the United States. Sloan recently worked on the upcoming Jared Leto Documentary and music video ‘A Day In The Life.’ His other work includes a national TV spot for Amway, Second Unit D.P for the upcoming movie ‘God Bless The Broken Road;’ and he recently wrapped up directing his first large- scale music video for chart-topping The David Stout Band. In commercials, Sloan has worked extensively in fashion, lifestyle, high contrast and high concept spots.
A television and film editor currently based in Ada, Michigan. Chad’s career began in 2005 as a promotions producer for WZZM 13. In 2007, he left to pursue his dream of documentary filmmaking. In the ten years since then, he has worked for a number of non-profit and corporate clients as a television editor cutting shows for the Outdoor Channel, NBC Sports, and the DIY Network. “What excites me to be part of Me, the “Other” is that I have always believed in the power of film as an instrument of change. Every person has a story to tell and film is an incredible medium in which to tell those stories. Film provides a unique insight and opportunity to find common ground and build bridges of understanding that are much needed in our world today.”
What’s in a name? I was intent on giving my first child a name that reflected universality rather than partiality to one place or people. It was a statement but also a hope that she would be greeted with openness and with fewer assumptions than I had experienced with a name that reflected little of my worldview or lived experience. I’ve worked in graphic design, multi-media and publishing and have become a passionate advocate for raising a generation of prejudice-free children. Part of a diverse family and raised in five countries, I am thankful that Me, The Other is giving voice to the diverse experiences that make up our communities. I am thrilled to be script supervisor for this project and grateful to the twelve featured individuals who shared their journeys through ‘otherness’. Their voices don’t represent all the voices out there but together, they offer a compelling portrait of diversity and a powerful place to begin a conversation about unity in diversity.
Twice Michigan Emmy-nominated composer, Levi writes music for the University of Michigan, and the internationally acclaimed piano method Faber & Faber, while also keeping a busy teaching and performance schedule. His music has served as the backdrop for film and television shows like the General Motors sponsored ‘First in Robotics’ competition, the Emmy award-winning documentary, ‘Racing the Sun’ and recently, the University of Michigan’s highly anticipated 2017 bicentennial commencement speech, which marked the university’s 200th anniversary. Prior to creating his music business in SE Michigan, Levi spent three years teaching English and touring as a keyboardist in Fukushima Japan with the late, great Norihido Endo of the blues band, Mascotts and the award-winning gospel group, the Aizu Mass Choir. Those 3 years in Japan living, learning, and being lovingly embraced as an other amongst others reminds Levi to this day how quickly our differences fade when we willingly come together and simply listen to each other’s stories.
Jean (Yijing) Wang
I was born and raised in China. I met my husband who was an American studying and working in China. We got married in 2008 and lived in China for seven years before moving to Ann Arbor from Beijing with our son two years ago. I was a programmer in a software company before my child was born. I am now a stay-at-home mom who is also doing web development work. I am grateful to have this opportunity to participate in this film as the website developer. I believe that everyone is different in some way: different with strength, with limitations, with backgrounds, with cultures. Everyone has their circle—big or small—when entering from one circle to another. It is a challenge for the people who enter and also for the people who were already in the circle. After the initial struggling, some people get to a point of understanding each other and realize everyone is the same in some way with the same needs of love, same desire of being recognized, same desire of happiness… so the circle gets bigger. I think the idea and intention of making this documentary is great and I am looking forward to watching its circle get bigger and bigger.
My path as a college student hasn’t been what most would consider “normal”. After graduating from Jackson High School, I headed to Western Michigan University as a film major—a great school, but I had the goal of attending the University of Michigan. After my first year, I saw that there a possibility of being able to transfer. So, for my second year I transferred to my local college where I took a few art classes. This sparked an interest in photography, which lead to me applying to the art school at U of M. Last year I had a great experience as an art student and as a part of that, was able to take a film class to work as an art director. Now, for my final year, I’m a SAC student studying film production. I’m excited to work on this movie because even though my path was unconventional, it has lead me to where I want to be, working on a movie I’m passionate about.
My name is Brandie T. Ekpiken. I am originally from New Orleans, Louisiana. I am a freelance photographer and also work for the University of Michigan. I am 15 years married to my wonderful husband Chris and we have two teenage children. I love to capture those fleeting special moments in people’s lives that would have been otherwise missed without the camera. This film is important because we are all the other. It is important to hear stories about real people that look like all of us and have had some of the same experiences as us and who’s stories are usually not told. The truth is, we are all more alike than different and that is the story that needs to be told. Telling that story will bring us all together. This film is important because it’s time to do something here on this earth that helps someone find peace. It’s time to do something that matters to someone else.
I grew up in Texas, and have lived in Ann Arbor for about seven years. I’m a single mom with four kids, a grad student at the University of Michigan (School of Kinesiology), a research associate in the School of Nursing, and a massage therapist. As a biracial kid, I asked my teacher which box to check for ‘race’ on a state test? The teacher looked confused and said, “I don’t know.” When I moved to the city, being biracial was a more common thing but people kept asking what I was mixed with and then getting caught up in my name. Yes, it’s Arabic. No, I’m not. Yes, my parent’s gave it to me. No, I’m not Muslim, I’m Bahá’í. Yes, it’s a religion… I feel like I’ve always had to explain or justify one part or another of my existence! As I get older, I’m understanding that it also means I can identify with some part of so many other people’s lives, and have begun to value that feeling of connection. I’m really excited that this film is being produced because seeing people share their stories and struggles so honestly makes me more comfortable acknowledging my own. I feel like we need to create places for people to find connections to others, and am excited to be a part of a project that is working towards that goal.
Born in post-Islamic Revolution Iran to a family that challenged the societal norms and believed in the importance of education both at school and at home, I grew up between Iran and France until moving to America when I was 18. I pursued my education at the University of Michigan receiving my BA in History of Art in Persian and Islamic Art; my MSI in Archives and Records Management focusing on Archives and Human Rights in Iran; and a Graduate Certificate in Museum Studies. I have since worked at the University of Michigan for the Libraries and now at the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts’ Instructional Support Services as their Manager of Patron Services. Moving between countries and cultures brought me to a different career and religious path from the rest of my family. I have felt as “the other” many times in my life. I have also learned that everyone at some point will experience the same feeling. It’s an honor to be a part of this film with an inspiring cast and crew who exemplify through their diverse life experiences that we are members of one human family.
Muni N. Tahzib is an allergist-immunologist. Originally from the Netherlands, she moved to the USA in 1996 and completed her training at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in NYC. She is on faculty at various local hospitals in NJ and an invited lecturer at Touro School of Osteopathic Medicine. Muni co-founded Love For Haiti in response to the devastating earthquake in Haiti in 2010; and Love 4 Puerto Rico in response to the recent Hurricane Maria where she mobilized countless medical professionals to provide relief to the people. As a child of inter-racial parents, she felt the only way not to feel as “the other” would be to see herself as a world citizen and is moved that this film highlights the oneness of the human family.
After growing up in rural, ‘outback’ Australia, I completed a business degree in marketing. During my last year of high school a teacher told our class, ‘You are all racist because you have had no experience with other cultures other than your own.’ Not totally true I thought. In the middle of Australia my parents exposed me to cultures, nature and beauty from around the world in books, through inviting visitors to our farm, and endless documentaries and movies. This upbringing has helped in my transition to living in America and my cross cultural marriage (both racial and religious). I am passionate about this project because I can see that my kids’ friends are not having the same type of open upbringing as I enjoyed and try to share with my kids. In the 1970s my parents made what limited information we had personal through stories and guests. In 2018 it’s my hope that this documentary will make a similar type of personal connection with our viewers.
I am a senior at the University of Michigan, studying Biomolecular Sciences. I am currently the lead Director for Filmic Productions, the school’s premier, student-run creative production agency. Additionally, as a narrative writer/director, I have won awards in multiple film competitions, such as the Ypsi24 and Los Angeles CineFest film festivals. I am drawn towards filmmaking by the power it bestows in storytelling. Film has a unique ability to create perspective, chisel minds, and catalyze change. Inspired by Jesus and rooted in my Christian faith, I seek to know and love the good in others, particularly the “other”—those who have been betrayed by the lines drawn at the hand of discrimination.
Drone Camera Operator
A Videographer and Photographer from Ann Arbor, Michigan, Trey majored in both videography and photography at Washtenaw Community College. He is the CEO and founder of his own start up production company, TSLC Productions. “When offered the opportunity to help out on such a meaningful and relevant documentary I was beyond excited. Helping out on a project with such relevance is really something that intrigued me. The term ‘unity in diversity’ is a vital topic begging attention especially in our society today. To be able to work on a film that not only opens the eyes of the viewers but also lets you in on some very personal stories from and about our community is truly something special to be a part of.”