Whether it’s playing Ambassador Mohammed Al Jaffar, Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ romantic interest on Season 6 of the HBO series, “Veep,” or the Hook-Handed Man on Netflix’s “A Series of Unfortunate Events,” or Gavin, a Hollywood studio executive on TV Land’s comedy series, “Nobodies,” Pakistani American actor Usman Ally is making his presence felt across all networks.
It was recently announced that Ally joined the cast of Dwayne Johnson’s YouTube series, “Lifeline,” a half hour series about a little-known life insurance company that sends its agents forward 33 days in time to prevent the accidental deaths of its clients. “Lifeline” will premiere Oct. 11 on YouTube Red.
Currently, he is also attached to projects like USA Network’s “Suits” and Amazon Video’s “Just Add Magic.”
Some of his additional credits include recurring roles on “Just Add Magic” for Amazon, “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” “Damages,” and “Madame Secretary,” with guest star roles on “Blue Bloods,” “Boss,” “The Player,” “Chicago Code,” “Mind Games,” “Person of Interest,” “Castle,” and “Blindspot,” to name a few. On the film front, Ally has been seen in “Star Trek Into Darkness” (Paramount), and indies like “Love Meet Hope,” “Misled,” and “Just Like a Woman.”
About his role on “Veep,” Ally told the Chicago Tribune: “There’s something about the way people from my ethnicity are portrayed on TV — as either hypersexualized to the point of being savagely sexual, or the very opposite, completely unsexy and the nerdy guy — it’s these extremes. So, we’re finally at a place where I can play a romantic interest, and it’s groundbreaking for me. You never see us in those roles. I don’t know if (the show’s writers and producers) realized it. I was constantly telling them, “This is a really big deal.”
Ally also believes that more people of color need to be involved in the creative process.
“You can’t push people of color to create their own stories until you give people of color the opportunity to create their own stories,” he told Newsweek. “That involves financially backing people of color to create those stories, that involves inviting people of color into the writers’ rooms.”
Born in Swaziland, South Africa, Ally, according to his bio on his official website, lived in Botswana, Kenya, Tanzania, and Pakistan for the first 18 years of his life. He moved to the U.S. to attend college at Lewis and Clark in Portland, majoring in theatre and cultural anthropology. He went on to receive his MFA Magna Cum Laude in Acting from the University of Florida.
Upon graduation, Ally moved to Chicago, where he got his start in the business working in theater. He has performed at some of the most reputable theaters around the country, and is most known for originating several lead roles in award winning plays, which include ‘Bagheera’ in Disney’s “Jungle Book,” ‘Amir’ in “Disgraced,” and ‘VP’ in “The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity.”
He most recently appeared as “Bashir” in “The Invisible Hand” at New York Theatre Workshop, a role that garnered him a Lucille Lortel nomination for Best Actor, A Drama League nomination for Best Actor, and an Obie award for Outstanding Performance.