What’s your full name?
Fadia Helena Qaraman
How old are you?
Where were you born/brought up?
What do you do for a living?
What’s your ethnicity?
How did your mum and dad meet?
In Saudi Arabia - mum was an air hostess stopping over, staying in same hotel as dad, her and her friend cut holes in their newspapers to check out dad and his friend – her friend and his friend dated, mum and dad got married!
How old were you when you became conscious that people saw you differently? What impact did that have on you?
Junior school – reactions/ comments about where my name came from. Didn’t necessary make me feel excluded, but definitely a sense of being ‘different’.
Did you want to change your appearance when you were a child?
My mum said that I once used a product which was meant to lighten your skin. Also started hair removing early, not really knowing what I was doing – hair removal creams/ shaving etc. I think I even shaved my eyebrows once!
Describe your most memorable moments when you were made aware of being mixed race.
Being half Middle-Eastern, having more body hair than most of my peers – distinctive memories of swimming lessons/ changing rooms etc.
Do you feel your parents prepared you for life as a mixed race person?
I don’t think they felt that they really needed to, sending me to a school in London etc. Also probably thought it wasn’t too much of an issue, as I don’t necessarily look like where I am from.
What ignorant comments have you heard about being mixed-race that really rile you?
Uneducated comments/ jokes about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
Do you think mixed race people/families are well represented in the media?
They are often typecast, especially in film & theatre industries. Under-representation means mixed race people often have to make their heritage the main focus to stand out (e.g. comedians).
Back in the late 19th century/early 20th century being mixed race held a stigma, as it was clear proof of interracial relations which was seen as an affront to society’s morals. Do you think it’s easier nowadays to be mixed race or is it more that racism has become subtler?
Don’t necessarily think it is easier – often feels like we are going backwards, with leaders like Trump and Farage being in such powerful positions, they encourage and make it OK to vocalize racist thoughts and attitude.
Is being mixed race a burden or a blessing for you?
Have you felt a struggle with your identity? If so, how did you deal with it and if you are now at peace with who you are, how did you come to a place of self-acceptance?
When younger, I would sometimes feel embarrassed due to my Palestinian origin, because of the conflict going on/ portrayal in media etc. I would never hide or lie about where I was from, but I wouldn’t bring it up if I didn’t have to. I felt ‘thankful’ that I had the Finnish side to ‘balance it out’, to prove that I wasn’t ‘all bad’. However, getting older I realized that that thinking is what society made me believe, not what I actually believed. Everything that my Palestinian heritage had given me growing up was nothing but positive – incredible family, amazing food etc. Now I can confidently say that I have full self-acceptance and pride – even explicitly stating in my play that I am half Finnish, half Palestinian! I have changed the previously negative feelings I had towards it (outsider/ not properly British/ ‘different’), into positives (unique – name & looks/ using my passion for theatre to explore and address difficult issues in the Middle-East).
What advice would you give to your younger self?
To not bottle things up so much.