Kumail Nanjiani, Actor & Comedian

Why he’s a MAKER: He listens to women. He respects women. He’ll never be the guy who says women aren’t as funny as men. He gets how challenging it is for women to break into comedy’s bro culture and he’s worked with is wife Emily V. Gordon to create inclusive comedy shows and “The Big Sick.” Also, seeing him gush about Emily’s talents is totally adorable.

From Pakistan to America: Nanjiani decided to come to America for his college years. It wasn’t the easiest transition. “I was super shy in Karachi, I never felt confident in myself. It wasn’t until I came to America, and was on my own and was forced to interact with people that I started coming out of my shell and being funny.”

Comedy Culture: After college, Nanjiani moved to Comedy’s capital city. “I think of how scary it was for me starting comedy in Chicago. And then how much scarier it would have been if I’d been a woman because it really was such a boys’ club, and it was very aggressive, it was very locker room.”

Husband-Wife Team: Nanjiani started writing the script for “The Big Sick” on his own. Then he gave it to his wife Emily to review. “Her notes weren’t just notes. It was another perspective. And I was like, ‘Oh, this is not my story, this is our story.’ She’s such a great writer and her perspective as a woman completely changed the movie.”

Equality and Quality: Nanjiani wants more women in comedy for two reasons. “Here’s the big thing—having more women writers, more women directors, more women executives, more women in positions in power, you don’t just do that to make an equal society, you do that because the product will be better.”