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LOS ANGELES: Saudi actress Aixa Kay is the latest star to inspire Arab women with her critically-acclaimed role in filmmaker Warren Sulatycky’s “Jasmine Road.”

The movie is available on Prime Video and stars Kay as Layla, a refugee, who lives in a rural Canadian town. She and her family live with a newly-widowed rancher, who is as conservative and xenophobic as the town’s other inhabitants, but eventually opens up to his guests.

The actress was nominated for Best Lead Performance by the Canadian actors’ union for a role that was close to her heart. In honor of International Women’s Day, Kay spoke about her portrayal of the character.

“(The film) shows us both sides. The refugee who is still strong and capable of making a new life, and it also shows us the side of the conservative Canadian who is afraid of the outside world,” she told Arab News.

“The man that we live with is a father in grief because his wife died recently. So he is also weak … it shows us (that the two seemingly opposing) sides have no hierarchy that we usually see in life where there is someone stronger or more capable than the other,” she added.

Apart from her work as an actress, Kay also volunteers for two charities. “One is called the Immigrant Service Society of British Columbia and the other, whose work I love, is called VAST: Vancouver Association for Survivors of Torture.”

This work has allowed her to see the “resilience” of refugees, and how one person’s help can “make a difference” in the lives of those who are homeless.

Kay has a Master of Arts degree in creative writing from Portland State University and is best known for her roles in the 2018 films “UnREAL” and “I’m Sorry” and 2019’s “LIT.”

In 2021, she narrated two audiobooks, and made her theater debut at Canada’s Vancouver Fringe Festival.

She also stars in two upcoming short films, “Cherry Blossoms in March” and “Sabicha,” that are currently in post-production.

Kay is among several actresses with Middle East roots who have gained international recognition including Zoe Saldana, Salma Hayek, Jenna Dewan, May Calamawy, Teri Hatcher and Alia Shawkat.

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