'Jack Ryan': Dina Shihabi's father's tweet is like a blow to the woman who is breaking stereotypes with her role
Amazon Prime's 'Jack Ryan' actress Dina Shihabi has been criticized by her father for indulging in nudity in one of the scenes in the John Krasinski starring show. Ali Shihabi, director of the Arabian Foundation, claimed that the scene is highly disappointing since these are not the values that were taught by him to his daughter.
In the now deleted post, Ali had written, "As a father, I am deeply disappointed with a scene with my daughter @dinashihabi in @jackryanamazon which just premiered. This is not how she was brought up and does not reflect our values. Clearly, the pressures of Hollywood got the better of her as a new actor." Dina plays the role of Hanin who is married to the antagonist of the show, Mousa Bin Suleiman, played by Ali Suliman. It seems like a blow for the woman whose father had tweeted only a few days ago by quoting a positive review on his daughter's performance.
Quoting an article from the Daily Beast, Ali had written, "Dina Shihabi is a force in the role, and her struggle for survival and safety finally brings the emotional gravitas that, for all the bloodshed we see up until that point, had been missing." However, it seems that he is overlooking all that his daughter has achieved over a single scene. The one thing that sets apart Cuse and Roland's 'Jack Ryan' is its potential to tell the story of every single character. Hanin who might be perceived as just another supporting character represents a large section of the community which has been suppressed throughout the ages.
While a terrorist was shown as someone with a traumatic past and a loving family, a woman was shown torn in between family and nation (much like her real life). Dina is known to be the first and only Saudi woman to be accepted to both Juilliard and the Graduate Acting Program at New York University’s Tisch School for the Arts, two of the most prestigious acting programs in the US. Coming from a country which has only recently entered into the realm of entertainment, as a young Saudi actress Dina has set herself as a role model for every woman after she attained stardom despite all the obstacles that culture and society had to offer.
In spite of several rejections, she never gave up because according to her "rejection is a huge part of what this life is all about, and those early setbacks really helped me develop a thick skin and a strong work ethic.” With Dina's character Hanin, Hollywood's usual trend of portraying a terrorist has also seen a massive change. By being more inclusive, it has represented a large section of society which has faced oppressions over decades. Needless to say, Dina is in the center of it all just like her character Hanin who is, on one hand, a loving wife, and on the other, a fearsome individual.
While Saudi women are highly underrepresented in most Hollywood films (or are played by American actresses), Dina is like a fresh start to a revolution. In one of her interviews, she had said, "We desperately need more opportunities, so then there wouldn’t be pressure on one person to represent a whole culture. It’s impossible for one person—they’re never going to make everyone happy, and it does the culture a disservice." While her words seem to resonate the root cause of her father's disappointment, Dina's uncommon role is what adds charm to her character.
She had told Entertainment Weekly that unlike every other show she found out in 'Jack Ryan' every character had his/her own backstory to rely upon. "Ninety-nine percent of the time, the women are victims and the men are just terrorists, and it’s very black and white. The way her story begins — she’s with her kids, she’s playing soccer, there’s a lightness to her. You get to see Hanin as a human being, as a mother." Unlike most female Arab characters, Hanin is represented as a smart woman with a mind of her own, and who does not hold herself back from voicing her opinion.
For a woman who has achieved such great feat in spite of every drawback, probably receiving such a lash from her father was heartbreaking. Nevertheless, her character comes full circle in the show where she is not seen hating anyone but caring enough to leave. What sets Dina's character apart is that she is a deviation from the stereotypical portrayal of Saudi women. But most of all, she is someone who makes a choice- to leave her husband in order to protect her children. As Dina said, "We wanted her leaving not to be because she hates him but because she has to protect her kids. She’s sacrificing the love of her life and this marriage that has protected her."