Comedian Hasan Minhaj, one of Netflix’s biggest stars, was named to Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of 2019 last week, alongside Michelle Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Dwayne Johnson, and other influential leaders.
Yahoo Finance caught up with him on the red carpet at the Reel Works annual gala where he was honored. Reel Works helps Brooklyn youth from underserved communities break into show business and learn storytelling through film.
By embracing his multi-ethnic and religious background in his hit show “Patriot Act” on Netflix, Minhaj, who is Indian-American and Muslim, has become a source of inspiration for fans. In the weekly comedy series, he gives his own perspective on global news, politics, and culture.
Minhaj talked about the challenges he faced at the start of his career.
“When I first got into comedy I had no idea how to make this a professional career in show business and to be honored by an organization that is providing a very clear pathway to a real career, in this thing that feels elusive and hard to achieve, is a huge honor. And I wish I had something like that when I was 18 to 20 too. So it’s an honor to be honored by that. And these kids inspire me,” says Minhaj.
Trevor Noah praised “Daily Show” alum Minhaj in the latest Time Magazine edition about the 100 most influential people of 2019. Noah explains that in the era of President Donald Trump’s presidency Minhaj’s “Patriot Act” show is necessary. “We’ve needed Hasan’s voice since Donald Trump came down that golden escalator and turned immigrants and Muslims into his targets,” he wrote.
Minhaj shared advice for NYC teens who would like to break into show business. “Do as much controversial work as possible,” he says, after laughing.
Gen Zers are paying attention. Faith Mora, the winner of Reel Works’s F. John Outcalt Award for Outstanding Filmmaking, is a huge fan of Minhaj. “He talks about certain things that I feel like most people won’t talk [about but in] a comedic way. He makes it entertaining to talk about social issues...so when I was watching...I’m being educated, but I’m also having fun watching this,” she says.
Mora was honored for a documentary she made about coming out as gay to her sister. She says that her dream would be to have her movie debut on Netflix, not HBO. “A lot of kids my age watch Netflix instead of HBO,” she says.
Editor’s note: This article was updated to note that Minhaj laughed before giving his advice on success.
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