Zeeko Zaki is the first Arab American Muslim to play an Arab American Muslim hero on television.With his role of Omar on the Dick Wolf series FBI, he is breaking the glass ceiling and helping to diversify the representation of Islam in American media.
Zaki began his career in North Carolina working in theater. The skills he learned on the stage along with his acting training eventually prepared him for his television career. He experienced the struggles of being ethnically typecast before transitioning into the role of being a hero. For Zaki when it comes to his career he says yes to everything and takes on whatever challenges his acting career brings. Before being cast as Omar, he did his screen test on the iconic Law and Order SVU set making the role of Omar feel more in reach before landing the job.
Zaki has an awareness of the significance of his role as Omar and being a part of the show FBI. The character of Omar was originally written to be Latinx however, after auditioning for the role and eventually being cast, the identity of Omar was rewritten to showcase Zaki’s own. For many Arab American Muslims in the United States Omar is a form of representation without relying on the use of stereotypes to build the character. Zaki knows that though Omar is one character, the role speaks for many and actively challenges misconceptions about his community and Islam as a whole.
He also hopes that with the diversity and authentic nature of the show people will get excited about joining the FBI again and to challenge many misconceptions about it. The show represents the diversity that exists in the real world and makes an active effort to show the different genders, races, cultures, and personalities that make up the Federal Bureau of Investigation.