Walid Chaya is an outstanding storyteller. He loves to make films that defy the trends of harmful stereotyping and promote modernity, peace, and harmony. Through his work and image, he is influencing the years-long phenomenon that portrays Arabs as barbaric, terrorists, and plain trouble. Through his role as a filmmaker, he consciously creates content that brings the positive aspects of his Arab lineage, depicts middle-eastern culture as progressing and worthy of being shared. Not to forget, downright hilarious and fun!
Talking about funny, let us not forget Walid Chaya being part of the stellar cast of Old School Sketch Show which is the longest-running sketch comedy show produced by one of the most popular comedy theatres in NYC, The People’s Improv Theatre (The PIT). Chaya has performed twice in this show alongside fellow comics, including Rachel Strauss-Muniz (Peacock), Christine Piniero (MTV), Sandy Chansamone (Broadway Comedy Club) and TJ Young (Caroline’s).
Walid holds the “Diversity Scholarship Award” from Upright Citizens Brigade LA for his work in participating in sketch writing and improvisation performances, bringing Middle Eastern characters to comedy.
His notable work that is shifting middle-eastern characters to comedy and breaking the racial stereotypes also includes his films that feature characters of color in leading roles. His award-winning short film, ‘Driving Ms. Saudi’ depicts the softer image of Arabs. The movie revolves around a son, played by Walid Chaya himself, who is inspired to help his Saudi mother learn how to drive after the KSA lifted the ban on women driving in the kingdom. This new development is depicted in a heartening and thought-provoking manner in the movie which is written and directed by Chaya himself. The movie received a great response and it also won Best Short Film in Dubai’s prestigious WOW Mid-East Film Fair, Silver Medal for Best Comedy Short at the Asia South East-Short Film Festival, among other official screenings at over a dozen prominent festivals from around the world.
He is currently developing two new feature films that, despite having different genres, are also depicting stories of middle eastern characters.“Breaking The I.C.E.” is an action-drama that follows refugees on the run from I.C.E in Hollywood. Inspired by true events, the movie is about Kareem, a displaced Syrian lawyer, who is on the run for refuge in Los Angeles and must save himself and his friends from deportation when I.C.E. Agents find him.
The second is a hilarious musical comedy/parody “The Barent Trap” with a notable team of Arab American performers and production designers. Walid plays two identical Lebanese twins who get separated at birth and are both raised by one of their biological parents. They discover each other for the first time at a Los Angeles falafel shop in their late 20’s and make a stupendous plan to reunite their stubborn parents and be a family again.
Historical stereotypes and tropes are hard to break. Walid Chaya’s efforts in breaking these legendary dramatic stereotypes are truly remarkable.