Dina Shihabi is set to act, co-write and co-executive produce a new TV show titled “Ya Bint.” If the original series in development continues as planned, the Saudi will be one of the three actors involved in a rare series focusing on Arab-American women. “Ya Bint,” which more or less translates to “Hey Girl,” centres on Maya, Jumana and Lara, who have just made the big move from the Middle East to Los Angeles. The three best friends go on a journey of self-discovery as they deal with culture clashes, new experiences and expectations in the City of Angels. While settling down in their new home, they are also pushed to delve deeper into the idea that freedom equals happiness.
Along with Rolla Selbak, the Riyadh-born Shihabi will be writing “Ya Bint,” one of the first development projects under Freeform’s new president, Tara Duncan. Executive Producers (EPs) Danny Strong and Sanaa Hamri, who are behind hit series “Empire” and its spinoff, are also on board for the dramedy by the Disney-owned cable network. It has also been reported Mandy Safavi will join the EPs, while Shihabi and Selbak, the writer and director of award-winning films “Choke” and “Three Veils,” will act as Co-EPs too. And Moroccan-American Hamri will be at the helm when it comes to directing “Ya Bint.”
Most recently, part-Palestinian Shihabi, who grew up in the UAE and Beirut, was cast as the main role of Dig 301 for the second season of Netflix's science-fiction series “Altered Carbon.” Appearing alongside John Krasinski as Hanin Suleiman in Amazon-produced “Jack Ryan” by Tom Clancy is another fresh feat by Shihabi, a dance enthusiast who was on Sharmila Kamte’s professional dance team in Dubai. The versatile actor, who is repped by Management 360, law firm Cohen and Gardner and CAA, was also in Hulu’s critically acclaimed comedy “Ramy.” (The show’s main star, Egyptian-American Ramy Youssef, has earned an Emmy nomination for Best Actor.)
After performing in numerous school plays, Shihabi, encouraged by her theatre instructor, moved to New York at the age of 18. Following chollaracter building rejections from acting schools, which led her to take a course with artistic director Wynn Handman, she went on to become the first Arab and Saudi woman to be accepted into the prestigious acting programmes at two world-renowned institutions, Juilliard and New York University’s Tisch School for the Arts. She graduated from the latter with her Master of Fine Arts after completing the Graduate Acting Programme in 2014, opening the gates for career success.