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Hard Work and a Touch of Luck

Ayad Akhtar is a Pulitzer Prize winner with a play on Broadway. He has been called the “voice of the American Muslim in theater” by the Wall Street Journal. He has gone from having his play put on in front of an audience of 130 people to a house of 900 over the period of a year. He got here partially because of coincidence.

Ayad Akhtar sounds like an incredibly humble man based on what I have read about him. He did not set out writing in order to address issues being written about currently in the news. He simply wanted to write pieces that were important to him personally.

Photo by Larry D. Moore

“I’m writing to the universal. I’m not writing to some specific ideal that fits in with the zeitgeist.” -Ayad Akhtar

It is probably clear by now that I am incredibly interested in the world of playwrights currently. Anytime I can read about new plays being produced and finding success, I hop on it to see how that playwright got where they are. Ayad Akhtar brought down the most honest facts about his success.

It started with an incredible understanding of the mediums he was working in. He made sure he understood the different forms and style of story telling in novels, film and plays before writing them. After you understand your mediums it is also important to write from your own voice. He claims that his success is due to a rediscovery of his own culture and voice as opposed to trying to write in the voice of many of the author’s he had read growing up. The final things needed is a healthy dosage of luck. He did not intend to be writing about a topic that is currently popular in media, but simply wanted to write about the American experience as he understands it. Armed with all of these, he found success.

Even after huge success Akhtar remains a down to earth man. When asked if this year had been fun for him he responded that, “Inbetween the roller coaster of emotions I go through in a given 10-minute period, fun isn’t exactly the word I would use to describe that journey. But in that, there is a lot of fun.” and that in those 10-minute periods he experiences, “Terror, anticipation, relief, hope, resignation, confusion, guilt, happiness, joy, back to terror”.

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