"it would’ve answered a lot of questions for me"
Alina Khan, who fled her family at the age of 11, has now discovered fame and happiness in life as a result of Joyland‘s success.
She fled her family when she was 11 because she received verbal and physical abuse due to identifying as transgender.
The actress talked about her early years and how she was frequently asked about her identity when she was still figuring it out.
Alina said: “People were constantly asking me why I am the way I am.
“At that time, I could not find a way to express that this was not something that I’m doing deliberately nor was this something I was making up.
“It was just me. There were no words to express this or no understanding of who I am or the identity that I have.”
More than ten years later, Alina Khan had the means to reveal her reality thanks to the director of Joyland, Saim Sadiq, who had trust in her acting talent and the movies she had previously made.
She stated: “Had I seen something like Joyland growing up, it would’ve answered a lot of questions for me about who I am, about my identity.
“More than [my acting] meaning something to other people, what’s more, important is what being a Pakistani trans woman actor means to me.
“Because it’s only me who can look at my own life and see the difficulty and the hardships that I’ve gone through.
“I place a lot of value on where I’ve gotten in life and how I’ve, in some sense, made it out.”
Alina Khan stated that her family’s outlook was also altered by the film.
While the theatrical ban in Lahore stopped her family from seeing Joyland, they have followed her newfound fame and have even contacted her to offer their congratulations and to rekindle their relationship.
Alina Khan said: “All those years ago, I ran away from home with this desire to make an identity for myself and to find some space in the world and achieve great things in life.
“Joyland is the reason that I can now, again, resume some healthy relationships with my siblings, my family.”
The actress has several objectives for her future.
Alina is currently considering her choices, including teaching dance, working as a choreographer and continuing her acting career, but her main goal is to be able to purchase a home in Pakistan.
She is aware that she cannot support herself via acting jobs alone because transgender women are underrepresented in mainstream Pakistani media, but she believes it is still worthwhile to try.
Alina met Sana Jafri, Joyland‘s co-producer, while she was casting Saim Sadiq’s short film Darling.
When asked why she decided to join the critically acclaimed film, Alina cited Saim Sadiq’s portrayal of Biba and the relatability of her character’s storyline.
“It was very attractive that a trans character was being shown as a strong, independent character who could fight for herself and who could stick to her morals and principles.
“What was most important for Biba was to display her talent in an honourable way, and that honourable way was working at the theatre.
“For society to appreciate her.”
For Alina Khan, the most important aspect of Joyland was its subtly courageous method of holding a mirror up to the patriarchal culture and exposing its harmful gender norms.
The actress added: “It was all very real, and it came out of this world that we live in.
“All of the stories [in the movie] individually reflect the truth of this world or of that character or of the moment that they exist in.”