Misbah Maalik is set to become a victim of Ste Hays racism and radicalisation in Hollyoaks, and while the storylines are fictional, actress Harvey Vardi has experienced similar in real life.
Ste is set to be groomed by newcomer Jonny, played by Ray Quinn, who brainwashes him into joining a radical anti-Islamic group. Ste blames Misbah for the death of his sister Tegan, and extremist Jonny uses his vulnerability to turn him onto a dark journey. Ste is initially aware of the manipulation, but slowly succumbs to the brainwashing and ends up fully on Jonnys side.
Within his journey, Misbah will be his target and shell become a victim of his racism. Sadly, actress Harvey has had personal experience to draw on as she has faced similar treatment and discrimination in real life, both as a child and adult.
When asked if shed experienced racism herself, she told metro.co.uk: I have, and theres two examples. Ive always thought Ive been really, really lucky. Ive had friends who experienced racism all the way through school.
Being a person of a certain age, from a time when it was very prevalent, but theres two that sit with me. There might be others, but I live in a lovely bubble with lovely friends and colleagues and its only later that you go: “What was that?” But the first one was when I was quite young, about seven.
Somebody threw eggs at my mum and she got eggs all over her. I didnt know what to do, she recalled. The second one was so many years later. I was about 26, 27. Id gone to this food festival and I was in a little queue to get a little tester of wine. The woman behind the counter served the person next to me, I was next, I looked up to her and she completely blanked me and went to the other side.
Harvey went on to explain that she hadnt realised what was happening at the time and only realised afterwards shed been a victim of racial discrimination.
The person next to me was my friend, so we both had a little moment of: “Can I have a glass of wine please?” We were totally oblivious to what was happening, but then it suddenly dawned on me that she was pretending I wasnt there.
She literally picked up the glass and gave it to the person next to me. Again I didnt know what to do. For me that feeling of not knowing what to do in the moment, is what I want to bring to this as Misbah. When things like this happen, you dont know what to do.
For me that feeling of not knowing what to do in the moment is what I want to bring to Misbah, sometimes when things like that happen you dont know what to do straight away. The shock.
Despite Misbah having such a miserable experience, Harvey explained that she still understands where Ste is coming from.
She understands why Ste is angry and upset, valid excuses for his anger but there has to come a time… it might take me hours and then Ill go oohhhh… delayed reaction. You still dont know what to do about it, but the reality of what happened dawns.
The scenes between Ste and Misbah will play out over the coming weeks, but just how extreme will his actions against her become?