A Palestinian comedian and actress will be a keynote speaker at RootsTech 2022, FamilySearch announced in a blog post Wednesday.
Maysoon Zayid, a comedian, actress, disability advocate and tap dancer, will be one of several international keynote speakers featured in the free, three-day global family history conference that will be held entirely online March 3-5.
Who is speaking at RootsTech 2022?
Zayid is the sixth speaker RootsTech has announced from its diverse lineup, following the announcements of:
- Food Network’s Molly Yeh.
- African boxing champion Azumah Nelson.
- Argentine singer Diego Torres.
- Actor Matthew Modine.
- French baker Apollonia Poilâne.
- Elder Ulisses Soares, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and his wife, Sister Rosana Soares, will be the featured keynote speakers at the event’s Family Discovery Day.
Who is Maysoon Zayid?
Zayid earned a degree in acting from Arizona State University, became a Princeton Fellow, and co-founded and co-executive produced the New York Arab American Comedy Festival and The Muslim Funny Fest.
- Zayid was a full-time on-air contributor to “Countdown with Keith Olbermann” and a columnist for The Daily Beast.
- She has also appeared on Oprah Winfrey Network’s “In Deep Shift,” “60 Minutes” and ABC News.
- She is the co-founder and co-executive producer of the New York Arab American Comedy Festival and the Muslim Funny Fest.
- Zayid had the most viewed TED Talk of 2014 and was named one of 100 Women of 2015 by BBC. She is also a strong ally to minority communities.
- As a professional comedian, she has performed in top New York clubs and toured extensively.
- As an actress, she appeared alongside Adam Sandler in the film, “Don’t Mess with the Zohan,” as well as “General Hospital.” She is the author of Audible’s “Find Another Dream.”
What is Maysoon Zayid’s backstory?
Zayid was born and grew up in New Jersey, but has described herself as a Palestinian and Muslim with a disability.
- She was injured at birth and grew up with cerebral palsy. Despite doctors saying she wouldn’t walk, she learned to dance and with her parent’s encouragement.
Every summer, she and her sisters would go to their grandparents’ village in Palestine, where there was no TV, no cell phones or internet. She grew connected to her family’s Middle Eastern roots, started developing her storytelling talent and learned the value of equality and connection across cultures.
- “Knowing my ancestors’ tales and their stories helps me better understand my own,” Zayid said in the blog post. “Knowing what they went through and where I am now … doesn’t just inform who I am, but it’s a constant reminder of how incredible this world is and how much potential one person has to change the entire universe.”
Of all her accomplishments, the legacy she hopes to leave is one of equality, specifically for people with disabilities.
- “The biggest thing that my Palestinian heritage did was it created a deep love and dedication to equality,” she told FamilySearch. “And I think the most influential part of growing up with, you know, kind of one crooked leg in each world was knowing that equality works, it’s worth it, and it’s worth fighting for.”
Register for RootsTech 2022 at rootstech.org.