Noor Exclusive
77Dead

As a journalist, Noor Tagouri is constantly curious, which is one of the many reasons she wanted to start her investigative docuseries “Rep.” Tagouri’s latest venture — which is in partnership with iHeartMedia and her production company At Your Service (AYS) — examines how the media’s representation of Muslims impacts American culture and society.

Throughout each episode, Tagouri sits down with some celebrities, leaders and educators — Hasan Minhaj, Ilyasah Shabazz and more — to hear their thoughts about a topic that is so personal to the activist.

“It was and is one of the most difficult experiences of my life — but most rewarding,” the 28-year-old exclusively tells GRAZIA USA. “When you dive into a personal story or a personal topic, you think that you really know it and you hear the people around you speak about it in a very specific way because they think they really know it and they lived it. But what I kept coming back to and realizing is that the story didn’t stop, the story didn’t end, and the story is still evolving.”

While researching the podcast, she stumbled upon a scene from The Phil Donahue Show, and “I remember thinking, ‘This is a forum of public opinion, it’s actually an intersection of politics, pop culture and public opinion that you don’t really see today,'” she says. “An audience of strangers came together with a panel of experts, and they had an open dialogue and conversation that at the time was seen as controversial but now seems very mild. I was like, ‘Wow, this is possible. These are conversations that people are having.'”

It all began when the brunette beauty was finishing her last series Sold in America. “Muslims have mainly been misrepresented the last couple of decades,” she says. “It really has just become this journey that I wanted to take on in a way that felt like anybody could do this and that is why it starts from a very personal point where I am like, ‘OK, I want to examine first the story that feels the most untrue in my family and figure out what the tools are at a play here.’ We have this framework for the journey we’re going on, but it’s even really hard to talk about while I am still in it because … this is where I am at today, but it doesn’t mean that is where I am going to be at tomorrow.”

Tagouri’s mission is simple: “I want people to walk away curious about themselves,” she declares, adding that she hopes people have discussions with their family about their past and their history, so “they can understand who they are and where they come from.”

Noor Exclusive
77Dead

“If we’re going to be talking about representation in media, then I have to understand who I am so that I can expect people to properly represent me,” she shares. “I think that if we can help guide or inspire people to really start to try to understand the story that they tell of themselves and the stories that surround them, then that naturally starts to facilitate building a foundation of true, deeper, meaningful connection that allows for proper representation to flourish.”

On the podcast, Tagouri admits the stories that are being told “are really, really, really special” — and being able to have vulnerable and open conversations is something she won’t take for granted.

“We are skipping the foundational part of the stuff that we always talk about when we talk about Muslims in media, and we’re getting straight into the intricacies of it, and when you get into the intricacies, the nuances of how we communicate with people, how we tell stories, how are represented, those lessons become quite universal,” she explains. “The series isn’t about Muslims — it’s about the story, and storytelling happens to be a really big part of the Muslim faith in general. I feel like we’re getting to create really beautiful art in a way that feels really true to us while having these conversations that for many people, they have never heard.”

Though this venture has been a labor of love, Tagouri already has another topic she wants to tackle next, but she’s not ready to share it just yet. “It’s a really fun one,” she notes. “There is a lot in the pipeline.”

Noor Exclusive
77Dead

Ultimately, Tagouri is thrilled she put her heart and soul into the podcast, as she has grasped new concepts along the way.

“When you’re a producing a project, no matter how personal it is, once it’s out in the world, it doesn’t belong to you, it has a life of its own,” she says. “It’s not just mine, it’s for everyone and that is a really hard lesson to learn. I learned it recently. As you start releasing episodes, I didn’t understand why it was so hard for me to let go and let the episodes come out into the world, and then I realized because I know once they’re out in the world, they are going to have a life of their own and that is incredible and beautiful. It has already been so healing for so many people, and it’s incredibly vulnerable, and so I am really just trying to sit with that.”

To listen to Tagouri’s podcast, which is available now on iHeartRadio and everywhere podcasts are heard, click here.

Episode 3, called “Muslim Cool,” dropped on May 2, the same day as the big global holiday, Eid al Fitr.

thoughts?