Maysoon Zayid is a comedian, writer, and disability advocate. She is a Princeton Fellow and co-founder/co-executive producer of the New York Arab American Comedy Festival. Her Ted Talk, “I Got 99 Problems...Palsy is Just One" was one of the most popular talks of 2014. Maysoon has sold out top New York City clubs and has toured extensively at home and abroad. She has appeared alongside Adam Sandler in You Don't Mess With The Zohan, and is a recurring character on General Hospital. She is the author of the bestselling memoir Find Another Dream and Scholastic's Shiny Misfits graphic novel.
"Just do it, and surround yourself with other people who are excited to join the fun. Create an environment where hostility is unacceptable, and where workers feel free to be open about invisible disabilities they may have and ask for any accommodations they may need."
When did you start your business? February 2019
What was the inspiration behind your work/business? Cancan Productions was founded because I wanted to produce incredible work that reflected the inherent intersectionality and diversity of the disability community. The disability community represents 20% of the global population, but is only present in approximately 2% of all media. Cancan also strives to produce work written by disabled talent, and is committed to employing a minimum of 20% disabled crew.
What are you most excited about in your work/business? I'm excited that my entire leadership team is women, and the majority are BIPOC. I love all of the projects we are working on right now, including my debut comic book, Shiny Misfits. The book is being published by Scholastic. Cancan Productions is collaborating with Audible to produce the audio version, which will make it accessible to blind readers and others who prefer listening. We are also producing a web series and, once the writers' strike is over, executive producing an independent film with the legendary Nancy Savoca, who was the first woman director ever to win Sundance
What has been the most challenging thing about starting your work/business? Finances. Cancan Productions has so much potential, but we need investors. Grants are too temporary of a fix to really allow us to grow and expand. Cancan Productions took an enormous hit during Covid, so as we rebuild funding is even more crucial and always a challenge.
What advice would you give to other women thinking about starting a work/business? It's so much fun. Just do it, and surround yourself with other people who are excited to join the fun. Create an environment where hostility is unacceptable, and where workers feel free to be open about invisible disabilities they may have and ask for any accommodations they may need.
Why did you enter the Women Changing the World Awards? My mentor, Loreen, suggested I give it a shot. I am glad I followed her advice.
What did you enjoy the most about being part of the awards? The networking opportunities are incredible, and I have only just begun to be involved. I can't wait to see all the places I'll go
What surprised you most about the awards? Winning. I really didn't think I would, and I'm happy I did.
How did the awards help you in your work/business? It's too soon to tell, but I have no doubt I'll soon see the effects, and I'll have to update your readers then.
What advice would you give to other women thinking about entering the awards? Don't be intimidated. What do you have to lose if you lose?
What has been the best thing about starting your own work/business? Being my own boss, and not having to bow down to mediocre patriarchy
What’s happening next in your work/business? Answered in #4.
What are your big plans for the future? I want to produce a talk show hosted by disabled women, like The View after a really bad accident. I also want to produce other people's work, because right now I am the creative force behind everything we are producing, so I'm hoping to expand the roster. And then, of course, sweep all the major award shows, because disabilities win awards.
How can we connect with you?
http://www.Maysoon.com @maysoonzayid on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/maysoonzayid/ @Maysoon Zayid on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/maysoonzayid/
2024 Women Changing The World Awards
Nominations are open now for the 2024 Women Changing The World Awards