The Tidbit had the privilege of talking to one of the most talented individuals on the scene right now. Maysoon Zayid talks all about acting, comedy, her book, and her experience at the Women’s Media Center Awards.
She just released an audiobook under Reese Witherspoon’s company Hello Sunshine and Audible called Find Another Dream. It is one of the first books to be released under Reese’s new company. The book came out on Halloween and already is the #6 most downloaded book on audible.
Find Another Dream is Zayid’s heavily self-centered comedic memoir. She takes the audience on her crooked journey from being born to immigrant parents in the great state of New Jersey to tap-dancing on Broadway. The book explores scenes of disability, living with Cerebral Palsy, bullying, love, loss, and bigotry all told through the lens of comedy. If your dream turns into a nightmare, find another dream.
Recently, Jane Fonda presented Zayid with an award at the Women’s Media Awards along with Gayle King, Julie K. Brown and Zerlina Maxwell in NYC.
Zayid can currently be seen on ABC’s General Hospital. She is known to most as a full time contributor on Keith Olberman’s show Countdown. She has appeared on 60 Minutes, 20/20, CNN, ABC News, and Al Jazeera, often talking about comedy, bullying, Islam, comedy, disability and pop culture.
The Tidbit: Congratulations on your recent honor at the Women’s Media Center Awards! What was that experience like?
I was trained by the Women’s Media Center in 2013. The skills they taught me were indispensable and really made me a much stronger media commentator. Since my training, I have attended the awards show annually so being honored was a huge thrill. The women who were being honored alongside me were phenomenal and it was a privilege to be included. I had a gorgeous dress custom designed by Rene Tyler, so I was feeling fancy. When I got onstage to accept my award, I had to sit because while I can walk and dance, I can’t stand. I hopped on the stool to accept my honor and it disintegrated. The giant audience saw my butt when I fell to the stage. I popped right back up and gave my speech. The audience cheered wildly. I will never forget that night. It was the perfect combination of a dream come true and an absolute nightmare. Maysoon on Twitter
TT: You recently released your book, Find Another Dream, under Reese Witherspoon’s company, Hello Sunshine. What has the response been to your book?
I never imagined I would get such a good response to my book. Writing and recording it has been the biggest challenge of my career by far. I had no idea that it would be this huge. The response has been overwhelmingly positive but there are some folks who are really mad at me for being intolerant of intolerance. That was surprising. I have been trolled online but these were not trolls. These were people who loved the book but felt I ruined it by calling out hate. I was disappointed by that. But the Lion’s Share of responses has been incredibly positive
TT: How did you first get into standup comedy?
My dream in life was to be on General Hospital. I auditioned in NYC and casting directors were dismissive of me because of my disability. I soon realized that people who limped like me were not on TV. Where I did see myself was in the world of standup comedy. I saw comedians like Richard Pryor, the original shaking standup comic, and so I decided to pursue comedy. Up until I signed up for my first comedy class, I was a drama queen. I had no idea that I was funny. That class at Caroline’s on Broadway changed my life and within the year, I was a paid standup comic. 17 years later, here I am, and I still love it.
TT: You’re well-known for your role on General Hospital. How do you successfully juggle so many different projects?
Divine intervention. I honestly don’t know how I do it, but I have an incredible team who supports me from my agents to my typist, I couldn’t do it without them. I’m currently developing a TV series and a talk show. I am writing a children’s book series, touring standup comedy, recurring on General Hospital, hosting a web series, and producing the New York Arab American Comedy Festival. It is a lot, but I am blessed and lucky to do it all and not sacrifice the quality of the work.