“Little America” is the new Apple TV + series that documents the complexity of the immigrant experience. Kumail Nanjiani and Joshuah Bearman join us to discuss the stories not seen in the daily headlines.
On how the immigrant experience is normally depicted in film and TV
Kumail Nanjiani: “I feel like no matter what side of the immigrant debate you’re on, right, if you hear the word immigrant — because of the way that they’re depicted in American pop culture — the image that people get in their head is pretty similar. And … a lot of it seems to be defined by struggle and strife. Not saying that those stories aren’t valid, and we have seen those stories. We just wanted to tell sort of a different point of view. You know, these people are just normal people living their lives. And in some ways, they’re just — you know, not in some ways, in many, many ways — very, very similar to just people who are born in America trying to live their lives. So we wanted to sort of explore a different version of the immigrant than the one that you generally see depicted in American pop culture.”
On feeling accepted in America
Kumail Nanjiani: “I never really felt fully accepted in America in that way. I think, of late, the definition of American for a lot of people has gotten really, really narrow. And I certainly do not fit that definition or description. So yeah, I think a lot of people do not see me as American. It’s because of how I look, because of how I sound, because of where I’m from, because of what I believe. And so you’re sort of forced to make your own identity…”