Actress Sitara Hewitt is part of a worldwide phenomenon with her Canadian produced television show, Little Mosque on the Prairie.
Little Mosque on the Prairie debuted in 2007 and immediately caught the attention of a world seeking more insight into the culture of Muslims.
Twentieth Century Fox has purchased the U.S. rights to the show, watch for an American version on Fox.
Until then…all of the show’s episodes are available at http://watchlittlemosque.com/
Sitara Hewitt portrays a doctor on the show and she called SheKnows from Toronto, Canada to tell us exclusively how a woman who grew up in Ontario and in the Himalayan Mountains has risen through the industry to succeed as a model, television hostess and now international television star.
SheKnows: First off, I see you have three older sisters?
Sitara Hewitt: Yeah, I sure do.
SheKnows: I have a younger sister, I hear all about being the older sibling and the advantages. What was that like being the youngest with three older sisters?
Sitara Hewitt: (laughs) It was a lot of fun. I’m quite a bit younger than my sisters. I was definitely the baby. I got really lucky. I had a lot of role models to look up to. I had three girls who were either dressing me up or looking out for me. They were off traveling in other countries and would come and tell me about it. It was neat. But, my dad could never get in the bathroom (laughs). We only had one bathroom with a shower. My dad could not get in there!
SheKnows: Not a chance!
SheKnows: I know you have a background in theater and dance, how much did that background shape the performer you are today?
Sitara Hewitt: I kind of have a background in everything.
SheKnows: I noticed.
Sitara Hewitt: (laughs) Not an extensive background in anything. But I have an extensive background in everything. When I decided to be an actress I had no experience. I was taught that you do your best at everything you try that feels right to you. You learn what you can. Theater was one of the things I thought I might want to pursue. When I started doing it, I fell in love with its real time. You have this connection with the audience. It’s brought a sort of real-time feel to everything I do in front of the camera.
SheKnows: You mentioned the interaction with the audience. I saw you got to part of Tony and Tina’s Wedding…
Sitara Hewitt: Oh gosh, I did (laughs to a giggle).
SheKnows: That can’t be any more audience involved or interactive, can it?
Sitara Hewitt: You know, it really was an experience. I was the queen of dinner theater for a while. Gosh, one thing that Tina and Tony’s Wedding did is teach me improv. Also taught me to be grateful when I have consistent work that’s not in dinner theater, it was tough. But it was fun, it wasn’t about being famous. On any given night it was a different show because of the audience. It was never the same way twice.
Finding a career role on the Prairie
SheKnows: Leaps and bounds away from dinner theater, how did Little Mosque on the Prairie come about? What first attracted you to it?
Sitara Hewitt: I heard about it from my agent here in Toronto. The first thing that attracted me to it was that the leads in the show were of ethnicity that we don’t usually see in mainstream and yet the script was really pop culture. I knew I’d be working with heavyweights who knew what they were doing. Our star system’s a little different here. It’s a smaller industry. People are where they are because they’re really good at what they do. I felt this role is unique. This show is unique. It’s a little bit of a hot topic because Muslims are in the media so much. Yet, it’s really just an interesting story that is not too controversial. My character is strong, stand-alone, quirky, but really, really interesting.
SheKnows: She’s a doctor, correct?
Sitara Hewitt: Yes, she’s a doctor and a pretty devout Muslim. She’s definitely stands behind feminism. She’s very fashionable, progressive – a little glamorous even – and on top of that she’s totally nerdy sometimes. She’s like Lisa Simpson meets Carrie Bradshaw and Monica from Friends – just Muslim and a doctor!
SheKnows: That’s perfect.
Sitara Hewitt: She’s so fun and she’s really developed over the last three seasons.
SheKnows: They say that, especially in theater, if the actors love what they’re doing, the audience will feel it and embrace the performance. It sounds like that’s the experience on Little Mosque’s set.
Sitara Hewitt: Oh, it’s so true. That’s exactly what it is. I totally agree with you. No matter what the role, or the scene – no matter how big or how small – if the actor has pleasure in what they’re doing, the audience will follow along.
Little Mosque goes mega
SheKnows: As a performer on this show, what do you make of the reaction? It’s airs in over 60 countries now.
Sitara Hewitt: It’s a huge surprise to me, honestly. You make a pilot and you wonder if the pilot will ever even make it onto TV. I’ve been on so many pilots that never go anywhere. I remember making it in this little studio outside of Toronto. We were just wondering if anyone was going to watch it. We think it’s funny. We walk into the studio one day where we all have lunch and all over the wall are this worldwide press and media. Our pictures were everywhere. There was all this hype and buzz about the show. We hadn’t even aired yet!
Sitara Hewitt: Whoa. We were like, ‘what is going on?’ That was a nice launching point for us. The attention started because it was a hot topic, but it’s continued because it’s a good piece of TV that families can enjoy. Plus, I think there was a lot of curiosity about the lives of everyday, moderate Muslims. It caught like wildfire.