In 2004, the USA Network premiered the new science fiction series The 4400. Over a 60-year period, 4400 people had disappeared without a trace. Then one day, those 4400 people returned all at once. It was a fantastic premise for a series and fans took to the show quickly.
But, after four seasons, the network decided to cancel the series leaving the show with a big cliffhanger. Fans have been waiting for a revival or reboot of the series for years and now, they’ve got their wish.
The CW premiered its version of the series called 4400. Although the premise of the reboot is very similar, this time, the series looks at the events through different lenses.
One of the cast members that is making the series a hit is Kausar Mohammed who plays “techspert” Soraya. Although the character can be considered the comic relief for the series, we believe there will be much more to her as the series progresses. We had the chance to sit down with Kausar to talk about the series, her character and what fans can look forward to with the first season of the series.
Pop Culture Principle – You must have been thrilled when you got the call that you landed the role of Soraya on 4400?
Kausar Mohammed – I was super excited! It’s also a dream to represent a queer and Muslim woman on television. Those are all my identities and finding a role like this is a dream. I am super grateful and also humble to be in a space where I can truly be who I am.
Pop Culture Principle – Before you landed this role, did you know anything about the original The 4400 series?
Kausar Mohammed – I did! My sisters watched the show here and there, so that is how I knew about the series. For me, The 4400 was the OG of the time travel and science fiction storyline of people disappearing and reappearing. So, in that way, it was really exciting.
Kausar Mohammed – Yes, I did. But also, I didn’t want to get in too deep because I think there is something really fun about reapproaching the series with a clear palette.
Pop Culture Principle – For this role, did you do a self-tape audition?
Kausar Mohammed – I did a self-tape for this audition and then the audition Gods that be lent it this way.
Pop Culture Principle – What can you tell us about your character Soraya and how she fits in the 4400 universe?
Kausar Mohammed – Soraya is the “techspert” on the show. She is the IT hacker who works for the government as well, but she sort of makes it clear that she wants to be on the side of the 4400 and wants to work with Jharell and Keisha.
Pop Culture Principle – Did the showrunner or producers talk with you about how they wanted you to play the character of Soraya, or did you have an idea of how you wanted to play the character?
Kausar Mohammed – I think I should shoutout the great writing on the show. For me, what I’ve loved and always wanted to play was the comedic relief on a series. I feel like Soraya offers that a bit and that’s what I love. I grew up watching a lot of procedural shows that always had that person that you go to in order to figure out the tech stuff.
Also, there was a conversation about her wardrobe and make-up. How do we make her different? How do we make her not the usual IT person that we are used to seeing? I think a lot of that came from the writing and this character was built visually. It’s funny, looking back at the scripts, I guess you can call her nerdy, but never in my mind did it occur to me at all that she was nerdy. In my mind, she was cool, suave, and sexy! But I love how – and it makes me laugh – that maybe that’s not how the outside world sees her? Overall, I think everyone had this idea not to make her the stereotypical tech expert. 😊
Pop Culture Principle – So, how much of a techie are you personally?
Kausar Mohammed – That’s a good question! 😊 I appreciate and love tech. I am not technologically challenged per say, but it takes me a minute sometimes! I figure it out eventually, though sometimes there is some rage involved! 😊
Pop Culture Principle – I think the biggest difference between this reboot and the original series is that the show looks through the lens of people of color more than the original series and has more characters of color than the reboot. Would you agree?
Kausar Mohammed – 100 percent. I think that is the power of it and I think we can also find parallels within the story of so much of what is happening today with the police dealing with folks of color. I think it’s such an interesting take on it.
One of the reasons I love science fiction and horror so much is because it allows us to examine the existing systems and cruel realities that we live in and flip it on its head and come at it from a different point of view just to see how unjust it is, and I believe the show does that and does it in a really powerful way. I am so excited to be a part of that and pushing the boundaries.
I am one of the few non-Black POC on the show and I think that speaks for something as well. What’s my role – as an actor and character – showing up in the space and being conscious of my own privileges and also my own powers and/or lack of powers and how that affects these larger systems that we are looking at in the 4400.
Pop Culture Principle – One of the characters Claudette who is from the 1950s notices that although there has been progress, more progress needs to be made. Many things from back then we are still dealing with today. Would you agree?
Kausar Mohammed – I was talking with someone I was watching the show with, and it was a conversation about what if the leaders from the Civil Rights movement showed up today, what would they say? It’s small things like the media and the narratives that we create that can impact larger outcomes. Step by step we are doing it and if not for us, but for our future generations.
Pop Culture Principle – Obviously, this reboot will be compared to the original series. Do you see that as a positive for the show or do you think the show should be judged on its own merits and a comparison could hurt that a bit?
Kausar Mohammed – That is a good question. What we are creating isn’t in a vacuum and it’s not like we can pretend that the original The 4400 didn’t happen because it did – and there is a beauty in that, and folks still love the original.
At the same time, the show is unapologetically through a different lens that the original The 4400 was not, so I think it is a matter of embracing this reintroduction of the series and allowing ourselves to get lost in that.
Pop Culture Principle – What can fans look forward to with the first season of 4400?
Kausar Mohammed – I think just a lot more fun. A lot more interactions with the rest of the folks in the hotel. What I am so excited about is that the entire series really gets deep into it and how they interact with each other and how they are fighting back against the system and watching all of that play out over the season. Also, look forward to some amazing writing and wonderful character development. The cast and everyone that I get to work with is just so powerful and so good and loves what they do. There is a lot of joy off camera that I think gets so clearly shown on camera!
Pop Culture Principle – It’s interesting with all the topics that are being tacked on the 4400, you are the co-founder of a consulting firm called SHIFT that deals with many of the same issues. Can you tell us a little about the firm?
Kausar Mohammed – We are a justice diversity equity and inclusion group run by women of color. We started back in 2017 after the beginning of the #MeToo movement. We were recognizing that women and women of color weren’t having a place within the conversations about sexual harassment and sexual assault. We also do equity and justice work. So, we’ve grown and continue to work with schools and organizations. Like all justice and equity work, it expands the work of so many Black, Indigenous, trans, and non-binary folks who have been leading the work continously.
For me, it’s all about connecting our stories and using my work on screen to support narratives that dismantle harmful systems, from white supremacy to homophobia. At the end of the day it’s about the ways we can make an impact and show up in solidarity in the spaces we exist in.
A huge thank you to Kausar Mohammed for taking the time to talk with us! You can catch new episodes of the 4400 every Monday night at 9/8c on the CW!
If you would like to learn more about her work with SHIFT, you can click here.
**Kausar headshot photos courtesy of Rob Flate**
**4400 photos courtesy of Adrian S. Burrows Sr./The CW**