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Meet Zabi Malik, this year’s winner of the Beddie Scholarship

The former Afghan refugee hopes the scholarship will help him become a film-maker

Zabi Malik is the recipient of Australia for UNHCR’s 2023 Beddie Scholarship, which enables a former refugee to complete a Bachelor of Arts at the Australian Film, Television and Radio School (AFTRS).

Zabi says he is thrilled to receive the scholarship, which will help him develop his talents as a writer and director.

“I'll be getting the chance to study at one of the best schools in Australia, if not in the world,” he said. “I want to give hope to other people from my background. Don’t be afraid of running after your dreams, no matter how crazy they might be.”

Zabi, 23, was born in Afghanistan and came to Adelaide after conflict forced his family to flee their home. He was passionate about the dramatic arts at school, but didn’t expect to pursue a career in film.

“The entertainment industry is not usually accepted or appreciated where I’m from,” said Zabi. “But my mother said: ‘Nothing seems to make you happy, go try this, you have always been interested in films’.”

Two weeks later, Zabi was on a flight to Sydney, living away from his family for the first time to study acting at the New York Film Academy’s Australian campus. He discovered the joy of being on both sides of the camera and, after earning a Diploma of Screen and Media, became determined to succeed as a director.

“My goals are to learn as much as I can about film-making,” says Zabi. “I’ve realised that I would love to learn directing, writing and someday make a feature film.”

Zabi already has an impressive body of work. He appeared in the television series A Troubled Town, as well as a handful of short films and theatre productions. He also co-founded Huma Media, a company dedicated to producing content in Dari – all while stacking shelves at Aldi and studying full-time.

Zabi began studying at AFTRS this year with the support of the $75,000 Beddie Scholarship. The scholarship was established with the support of AFTRS to help former refugees develop their storytelling talent.

Former Syrian refugee, Joelle Sanounou
Inaugural Beddie Scholarship winner Joelle Sanounou has graduated from AFTRS and is pursuing her career in film-making.

"There is so much talent within not just the Hazara community but in the general Afghan community," he says.

"We can dream big and we can achieve it. There's a lot of talented girls and boys out there who can make a huge difference."

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