Ahead of her acting debut as a guest star on the Hulu series Ramy, Bella Hadid opened up about wishing she had been raised in “a Muslim culture.”
For context, Bella was born in DC to Dutch model Yolanda Hadid and Palestinian real estate developer Mohamed Hadid. “I was with my Palestinian side [of the family in DC],” Bella told GQ. “And I got extracted when we moved to California.”
Bella grew up in Santa Barbara, where she was typically the only Arab girl in her classes — and was subject to some “racist name-calling” as a teen. “I was never able to see myself in anything else, so I tried to just sit back,” she continued. “For so long I was missing that part of me, and it made me really, really sad and lonely.”
When Bella was 4, her parents ended up divorcing. “I would have loved to grow up and be with my dad every day and studying and really being able to practice, just in general being able to live in a Muslim culture,” she added. “But I wasn’t given that.”
On the set of Ramy, Bella cried after being surprised by a “Free Palestine” T-shirt from the crew. “I couldn’t handle my emotions,” she recalled. “Growing up and being Arab, it was the first time that I’d ever been with like-minded people. I was able to see myself.”
Indeed, her friendship with Ramy star Ramy Youssef led to further exploration of her faith: “There was one time where Ramy came over during Ramadan and allowed me to pray with him — and it was one of the most beautiful moments of my adult life.”
Earlier this year, Bella spoke about her heritage in relation to her regret over getting a nose job at age 14. “I wish I had kept the nose of my ancestors,” she explained. “I think I would have grown into it.”
You can read the full GQ interview with Bella and Ramy here.
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