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Archive for the ‘Entertainment’ Category

Tasty Music, Hold the Instruments: About Penn Masala

Penn Masala, the world’s first Hindi a cappella group, was formed in 1996 by a group of students at the University of Pennsylvania. Since then, the group has performed throughout the USA, including New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, Houston, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC (at the Kennedy Center with A.R. Rahman). Internationally, the group has performed in Toronto, London, Mumbai, and Kolkata.

Article published on May 18th, 2008 | No Comments | Trackback | Categories »
Zachary Morad, CEO

Bridging People Through Music: Zachary Morad and yallatunes.com

Zackary Morad is the Founder and CEO of yallatunes.com LLC, an Arabic music video web site that’s making heads turn. The site uses a player that won an EMMY in innovation and engineering for video on demand in 2006. Obtaining the rights to the player was a big accomplishment for Zachary and there are definitely many more are in store. Currently Zackary is working to launch the website and bring Arabic music and culture to people across the globe. Yallatunes.com is unique because it brings a social networking component to a site that serves as a source of music and videos. Zackary’s vision for the site is that it will bridge cultural differences through music. He believes “music is a message of love and understanding,” and he believes yallatunes.com can spread this message. To find out more about Zackary Morad or to read more about his innovative venture, yallatunes.com, read on in this week’s MidEastConnect.

Article published on Mar 9th, 2008 | No Comments | Trackback | Categories »
Telly Leung, Professional Performer

Young Broadway Performer Telly Leung

As a high school student, Telly Leung got involved in his high school’s musical as a way to take a break from his physics and calculus classes. Telly never quite returned from that break, however: Today he’s a professional performer, currently in the Broadway cast of “Rent.” He has a packed life that is constantly in motion, with rehearsals, auditions, and performances – it’s anything but a conventional 9-to-5 job. Despite the instability of going from one show to the next whenever one ends, and despite the “gypsy” lifestyle of often being on the road to go where the work is, Telly, 27, says he thinks he’s one of the luckiest people on Earth because he gets to do what he loves for a living. To learn more about Telly and what it’s like to be an Asian-American performer, check out this week’s Young & Professional Profile.

Article published on Oct 25th, 2007 | No Comments | Trackback | Categories »
Rajal Pitroda, Partner

Thinking Beyond the Box: Rajal Pitroda

Major film studios spend $30 million or even more to market a movie, but Rajal Pitroda‘s firm, Beyond the Box Productions, works to get audiences to notice films with marketing budgets that are often less than $1 million. The company markets and helps distribute independent films, creating individualized marketing strategies and providing alternative distribution deals. It is especially committed to films involving economic, social, and political issues, particularly those that pertain to women and adolescents. As a partner at Beyond the Box, Rajal, 29, scouts for innovative films, designs marketing plans for clients, and oversees the online and wireless portions of the company’s work. It all builds off her previous career in Bollywood, where she worked with the Confederation of Indian Industry and was involved with setting up the India Pavilion at the Cannes Film Festival. To learn more about Rajal and her movie marketing, check out this week’s Young & Professional Profile.

Article published on Oct 18th, 2007 | No Comments | Trackback | Categories »
Rohi Mirza Pandya, Producing Director & Rehana Mirza, Artistic Director

Desi-Filipina Sisters Producing Fusion Film & Theater

Asian Americans make up a heterogeneous community in the United States, a community comprised of people of different religions, races, and socioeconomic statuses. Too often, however, there seems to be room for telling only one experience of being Asian American, when in fact there are millions of stories to tell. That’s where Desipina comes in. The nonprofit fusion arts company focuses on film and theater to spread artistic, cultural, and political dialogues within and between communities. The name Desipina itself reflects fusion: It’s the slang term for describing people of South Asian (desi) and Filipina (pina) heritage, like the Desipina’s Founders, sisters Rohi Mirza Pandya, 34, and Rehana Mirza, 28. In addition to its signature show Seven.11 Convenience Theatre, Desipina has produced plays such as “Barriers,” which portrays the backlash against a Muslim family post-9/11 and “Modern Day Arranged Marriage,” which recently won an NBC Audience Award. To learn more about Desipina and the talented, creative sisters who are behind it, check out this week’s Nonprofit Spotlight.

Article published on Oct 9th, 2007 | 1 Comment | Trackback | Categories »
Ali Jamani, Screenwriter/Director/Filmmaker

Lights, Camera, Ali Zamani

Lights! Camera! Ali! At age 26, Ali Zamani has launched a career as a screenwriter/director/filmmaker, and as his projects continually propel him full steam ahead into the Hollywood and international scene, we’re proud to have captured just a small glimpse into this remarkable artist’s life. With his first job as a video store clerk, who would have thought that his path would eventually lead him through graduate school and eventually founding AZ Productions? From music videos to movies, Ali covers all territory; whether scouting sites, hiring crew members, or editing his films, Ali sees his works all the way through wanting always to add one more special touch or creative twist. Now with years of professional work under his belt, Ali has much to show for his dedication to the art of film making. For more information on Ali Zamani and AZ Productions, read on to learn more in this week’s edition of The Mideast Connect!

Article published on Sep 29th, 2007 | No Comments | Trackback | Categories »

MTV Comic Aziz Ansari Will Make You Laugh

24-year-old Aziz Ansari (who blogs at azizisbored.com) is in the midst of a meteoric rise in comedy.

Over the past couple of years, his awards and honors include: Emerging Comics of New York’s “Best Male Standup,” TimeOut New York’s “Favorite New Standup,” Rolling Stone’s “Hot List,” and New York Magazine’s “Funniest People You’ve Never Heard Of” (that one came early during his rise).

He has appeared on Comedy Central’s Premium Blend, and is featured on the upcoming Comedy Central Records CD/DVD compilation “Invite Them Up,” which features many of New York’s top comics. He provides occasional commentary on VH1’s Best Week Ever. He is also busy with the comedy group Human Giant, which consists of Aziz and his colleagues Rob Huebel, Paul Scheer, and Jason Woliner. Human Giant became an internet phenomenon and then, incredibly, MTV offered Human Giant a self-titled TV show. (Let us emphasize this: Human Giant did not approach MTV. MTV approached Human Giant. This is practically unheard of in the television business.)

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Article published on Sep 18th, 2007 | No Comments | Trackback | Categories »
Mark Sithi

DJ-Emcee Entrepreneur & Financial Healthcare Consultant Mark Sithi

At a wedding reception, having the right music can make or break whether the newlyweds and their guests have fun or not. With that fact in mind, DJ and emcee Mark Sithi, 24, works to make all his clients’ weddings ones to remember with just the right music. Mark started out as a part-time DJ back in his high school days, and today he continues that work alongside his full-time gig as a senior associate with the financial health care consulting firm Triage Consulting Group. At Triage, Mark not only assists hospitals in recovering the money that insurance companies owe them, but he also is involved with the firm’s Corporate Responsibility Leadership team, which tasks him with organizing volunteer activities at an area elementary school. The volunteering doesn’t stop there, though. Mark also lends his time to the Oakland Asian Students Educational Services Cal Alumni Club and the Haas Alumni Network. To learn more about this young man who loves DJing and volunteering, check out this week’s Young & Professional Profile .

Article published on Aug 16th, 2007 | 1 Comment | Trackback | Categories »
Syed Majid, CEO

Film Producer and CEO Syed Majid

Syed Majid heads not just one, but two, very distinct companies. At Orion Technologies, he helps engineering, accounting, and technology firms figure out how to operate more efficiently and increase their bottom lines. The company provides these clients with individualized, innovative solutions to their technical management needs so they can achieve their strategic goals. Though all this technical work at Orion may sound very left-brained, Syed’s other company, Voyage-Films, involves a bit more of the right brain. Voyage-Films aims to develop, finance, and distribute creative, truthful, and powerful stories featuring South Asian characters and themes. It’s striving to fill a niche the mainstream Hollywood film industry is unable to address. Syed, 32, reviews scripts, interacts with actors and screenwriters, and meets with investors. In early 2008, Voyage-Films plans to release a film about a South Asian detective who works with New York City’s police department and the personal trials he faces before and after 9/11. To learn more about Syed and his companies, check out this week’s Young & Professional Profile.

Article published on Aug 11th, 2007 | 1 Comment | Trackback | Categories »

MeccaOne Media: A Voice for the Everyday Muslim

Let’s face it – after September 11, 2001, the depiction of Muslims around the world has been negative. Associations with terrorism, fanaticism, and hatred has been predominant. The common Muslim voice has been unheard. Omair Ali, 30, decided to change all of that in 2002. He founded MeccaOne Media, in an effort to provide a ‘voice of the everyday Muslim living in the West’. With a growing audience of Muslim and Non-Muslim listeners, MeccaOne has succeeded in gaining several notable firsts – including the first to broadcast a live Islamic call to prayer and first to provide Islamic podcasts on iTunes. Learn more about Omair and MeccaOne Media as we feature them in this week’s Non-Profit Spotlight.

Article published on Aug 10th, 2007 | 3 Comments | Trackback | Categories »
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