Part-Palestinian model Bella Hadid has always been very vocal about embracing her Arab heritage and representing her Palestinian roots. In a recent interview with GQ, the outspoken mega-model opened up about being raised separate from her culture at a young age and how she wishes was raised in a “Muslim culture.”
“I was with my Palestinian side [of the family in DC],” Hadid, who was born to Palestinian real estate developer Mohamed Hadid and Dutch reality television star Yolanda Hadid, revealed to the publication. “And I got extracted when we moved to California.”
Hadid, who grew up in Santa Barbara, California with her older sister, Gigi, and younger brother, Anwar recalls that she was typically the only Arab person in her classes, becoming subject to “racist name-calling” as a teenager.
The 25-year-old further went on to reveal that she 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,” after her parents divorced when she was four-years-old. “But I wasn’t given that,” she added.
Hadid’s newest acting role in Hulu’s comedy-drama series Ramy, which follows the story of first-generation Egyptian American Ramy Hassan and his family, as well as her friendship with show creator and lead star Ramy Youssef partly reignited her longing to embrace her Muslim side.
The model shared that she teared up after she was surprised with a “Free Palestine” T-shirt from the TV show’s crew on her first day on set. “I couldn’t handle my emotions. 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,” she shared.
As her friendship grew with Youssef, she became more comfortable with exploring her own 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,” Hadid recalled.
The catwalk star is set to appear as the titular character’s “weird” girlfriend in the third season of Ramy, set to premier on September 30.