Maysoon Zayid Laughs Through Life's Challenges
Maysoon Zayid doesn't want you to feel bad for her--she wants you to laugh with her. The comedian's TED talk on growing up with cerebral palsy has garnered over 3 million YouTube hits. Zayid is no stranger to difficulty—as a Muslim-Palestinian women growing up in New Jersey, she learned the hard way that her ambitions (she longed to be a soap opera actress) were often stilted by her identity. But Zayid now prefers to identify as comedian, writer, and even budding politician. After attending acting school and realizing Hollywood was never going to cast her, she noticed those women who didn't fit in yet succeeded in the entertainment business—Whoopi or Ellen—were all comedians. She started doing stand up in New York City and after growing weary of how Arab's were represented in the media, co-founded the New York Arab American Comdey Festival. She hasn't limited her comedic tour de force only to the U.S.; she is also considered the fist stand up comedian to performer in Jordan and the Palestinian territories. And, when she's not cracking crowds up, she has devoted her time as a representative in the New Jersey state council and runs an arts program in Palestine to help disables kids cope with trauma. More than anything, Zayid is earnest and sidesplittingly funny. She nerved let her disabilities and difficulties roadblock her success, and now they may be the reason even more people become familiar with her humor and work.