New Jersey– Actor Mayson Zayid it’s a lot of things. Funny is just one of them.
“In the Olympics of oppression, I would win the gold medal. I’m Palestinian, I’m Muslim, I’m disabled, divorced, a woman of color, and I live in New Jersey,” Zayid said.
Born with cerebral palsy, Zayid breaks down the barriers of entertainment. The comedian, actress, and disability advocate has transitioned her career from the comedy stage to television, a TED Talk, and a teaching gig at Princeton. Yes, this Princeton.
A drama queen as a child, Zayid was destined to be in the spotlight. However, she has seen very few people with disabilities on screen. Everything changed when she saw legendary comedian Richard Pryor, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1986, and realized his Hollywood dream could be his reality.
Zayid studied drama and acting at Arizona State University and set her sights on getting chosen for General Hospital. The only problem was that disabled television characters are often miraculously cured.
“I couldn’t be cured and I couldn’t be cast,” she said. But for Zayid, it was only a matter of time.
“I was like, ‘Oh, I’m just gonna do stand-up, get really famous and then be on ‘General Hospital.’ Which I did,” she said. Zayid joined the cast of “General Hospital” in 2019, playing the role of Zahir Amir.
A proud Muslim, Zayid is the executive producer and co-founder of the New York Arab-American Comedy Festival. She and fellow comedian Dean Obeidallah created the festival in 2003 to combat negative images of Muslims after 9/11. The festival is now a New York comedy powerhouse, showcasing the talents of dozens of Arab-American comics and creators.
She also performed on Live Nation’s “Arabs Gone Wild” comedy tour. His other credits include “The Countdown with Keith Olbermann”, “In Deep Shift With Jonas Elrod” and the movie “You Don’t Mess With the Zohan” to name a few.
Zayid is excited about the upcoming release of his first comic book “Shiny Misfits”. The comic features a disabled lead and other disabled characters. As the story unfolds between the real world and a dream world, the characters remain disabled in both.
Zayid is full throttle on his mission to open doors for people with disabilities. She uses her success to show the world that disability is not a one-way street.
“I would just like to see disability reflect the diversity of our community,” Zayid said. “I would also like to see the end of non-disabled people playing visibly disabled on screen.”
As Zayid moves the needle for people with disabilities, she also hopes to inspire families with children with disabilities.
“I would like to see parents who want their children with disabilities to live their best life to start connecting and listening to adults with disabilities,” Zayid said.