TIME Magazine calls her Afghanistan’s “part Oprah, part Hannah Montana,” but her real name is Mozdhah Jamalzadah.
Jamalzadah, 25, is a singer-model-actress who was born in Kabul, Afghanistan, but raised as refugee in Canada. Jamalzadah completed a program of study in Broadcast Journalism at the British Columbia Institute of Technology, and is currently studying Philosophy and Political Science at the University of British Columbia, according to her website.
She has modeled for Fashion Week, Cosmopolitan, and Asian Woman Magazine; recorded award-winning and chart-topping hit songs such as “Afghan Girl”; and even performed in the White House for International Women’s Day 2010.
Now, Jamalzadah has returned to Afghanistan, and hopes to use her fame to address the issues of women’s rights in Afghanistan as the host of Afghanistan’s new television talk show, The Mozdhah Show.
The show consists of performances by singers, skits, games, guest speakers, and a live audience. By blending comedy and entertainment with active discussions on family issues—even taboo topics, such as divorce—Jamalzadah hopes to spread change to her home country.
“What I am trying to do is introduce women’s rights slowly, without people noticing…I see through my audience an opening up of Afghan society,” said Jamalzadah in a recent interview with TIME Magazine.
Although Jamalzadah is a national celebrity, she has also drawn heavy criticism—and even threats—from some for her western dress and controversial subject matter.
But she refuses to let anything deter her. Rather, says Jamalzadah, she will continue, because she is beginning to see changes, even in the participation of her show’s audience:
“The women and girls, they feel like they can speak out. They are more confident,” she said.
Whatever she is—whether it be Afghanistan’s Hannah Montana, Oprah, or both—she definitely is a true inspiration to her nation, the world, and us here at Barakat.
Written by: Lisa DeBenedictis