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EastEnders' Nina: Playing anti-gay Zainab is hard

EastEnders' Nina: Playing anti-gay Zainab is hard
EastEnders' Nina: Playing anti-gay Zainab is hard (Image credit: BBC)

EastEnders star Nina Wadia has admitted it's very hard to play a homophobic character - because the audience's reactions can be 'frightening'. The actress plays matriarch Zainab Masood, who coldly insisted her son Syed (Marc Elliott) go ahead with his wedding to Amira (Preeya Kalidas) in spite of his gay love affair. Asked if it's difficult playing someone who's homophobic, Nina told Loose Women (opens in new tab): "Very much so, especially because the reaction on the street has been very mixed." She continued: "A lot of people say, 'We really felt for her, we understand that as a mother she wants to protect her child, whether she's saying that's correct or not. Regardless, she's protecting her kid.' "Other people have come up to me and said, 'You've finally said what you've been thinking.' And that really frightens me because that's not me. My character has to say that and it's not necessarily me believing it. And that's a bit frightening." During her interview, Nina revealed she's recently filmed scenes where Zainab has her baby. She let slip that it was 'very harrowing', adding: "Not everything goes well in EastEnders." Click here to watch's new weekly soaps video preview, the Soap Scoop (opens in new tab)

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Patrick McLennan is a London-based journalist and documentary maker who has worked as a writer, sub-editor, digital editor and TV producer in the UK and New Zealand. His CV includes spells as a news producer at the BBC and TVNZ, as well as web editor for Time Inc UK. He has produced TV news and entertainment features on personalities as diverse as Nick Cave, Tom Hardy, Clive James, Jodie Marsh and Kevin Bacon and he co-produced and directed The Ponds, which has screened in UK cinemas, BBC Four and is currently available on Netflix. 

An entertainment writer with a diverse taste in TV and film, he lists Seinfeld, The Sopranos, The Chase, The Thick of It and Detectorists among his favourite shows, but steers well clear of most sci-fi.