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Saba Hameed never faced colourism in showbiz

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Renowned Pakistani actor Saba Hameed recently appeared as a guest on actor Iffat Omar's podcast, where the two delved into the sensitive topic of colourism in the Pakistani entertainment industry. During the candid conversation, Saba shared her personal experiences and observations regarding this prevalent issue.

Reflecting on her own journey, the actor revealed that she had always believed she had a fair complexion, unaware of the discrimination that could occur based on skin tone. The Family Front actor recounted, "Iffat, I am very blessed because I spent all my life thinking I was fair-skinned." However, she acknowledged that despite her own privilege, she witnessed instances of discrimination against other women in the industry due to their darker skin tone.

Responding to Iffat's query about whether her complexion ever posed a problem for her in showbiz, Saba explained, "This (colourism) was not a problem back then, it became one later." She divulged an incident from a few years ago where a talented woman faced difficulties in securing roles solely because of her dark skin tone. 

“I learned very late…there was a person who was dark skinned and she wasn’t cast because of that. Very talented, very beautiful, tall and size zero type situation,” the Mere Humsafar actor recalled.

Iffat also chimed in with her experience, disclosing, “With me, this has happened a lot. For my skin colour, people conceive very negative acting roles.” However, Saba put her two cents and offered that this had little to do with colourism. “Negative roles have more meat. Otherwise, all you have to say is aao khaana kha lo (come and have food).”

In the past, actors like Amna Ilyas and Gohar Rasheed have repeatedly slammed the entertainment industry for its longstanding prejudices against dark-skinned actors. When asked to share his thoughts on the current criteria to become an actor, Gohar quipped that the only way to make it big in the game is to get expensive skin-lightening injections.

“You can rest assured whether you can act or not. The production house knows you can do it, you don’t know it, but they know you can act because you are fair,” he laughingly told host Yasir Hussain in an interview in February. Gohar also called out mainstream television’s knack for ‘toxic masculinity’, tying it with wider practices of exclusion. He contended, “Unfortunately, we are a racist country. Let’s just admit the fact. We want everything fair and light like milk.”

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