From ‘Diary of a Badman’ to MBE — how Humzah Arshad put “Asians on the map”.
Humzah Arshad MBE is an English actor, comedian, and writer from Pakistan who now lives in Streatham, England. For a South Asian growing up in East London, Humzah Arshad was a household name. Many of us grew up watching ‘Diary of a badman’ on YouTube, a comedy series he is most known for which started on the 6th of September 2010 and ended on the 10th of October 2013. In the series, Arshad portrays an optimistic young man going through challenges that most the youth living in London experience. The sheer relatability and comedic essence are what gained Arshad his huge following and made him a role model amongst the younger generations.
His homemade YouTube videos have been viewed more than 100 million times, which he believes makes him one of the most popular online comedians in the UK.
Arshad has written 3 books since, a series on a ‘little badman’ following an 11-year-old rappers dream to be rich and famous all written with Arshad’s comedic flare. He was inspired to write as he said in an interview with Square Mile,
“When I was young, I never read much. I think it was because the characters never appealed to me. If I saw a little Asian boy who dressed like me, who talked about other cultures, then maybe I’d have picked it up. Only 1% of all children’s books have a main character which is black or Asian. It’s really bad man.”
Arshad has definitely played a large role in diversifying the industry and bringing characters Asians would be able to identify with, and relate too, onto larger platforms. Personally, I think he played a big part in creating discussion around Asian culture. I remember walking into school and everyone would be talking about the latest ‘Diary of a badman’ episode, there would be some people explaining the cultural references and jokes to those who didn’t understand. It created a really open space to talk about different cultures at a really young age, which I’m sure many people appreciated.
Arshad also frequently tours schools in the UK as part of an anti-radicalisation campaign with Scotland Yard.
More recently, Arshad was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2021 New Year Honours for services to education. He said, “My mum was over the moon, my dad said well-done like two days later.”
Not surprised there.