EDMOND, Okla. (KFOR) – A University of Oklahoma graduate is returning home to star in an upcoming HBO Max project being shot in the state.
Iqbal Theba has been in countless movies and was featured in recurring roles in shows including ER, Community, and Glee.
He returns to the Sooner State to star in “Land of Gold,” a movie about the relationship between a first-generation immigrant and an undocumented 10-year-old.
In an interview with KFOR, Theba says this project has a special meaning to him because this is where his acting career started.
“I was really excited about this project because it shoots in Oklahoma,” he said.
Although he was born and raised in Pakistan, Theba was able to make Norman his second home. But when he attended OU in the 80s, he didn’t start in acting.
“I wanted to study engineering,” he said. “I even had a job in my senior year and I hated that, so I thought about life and ended up going to watch a play.”
That’s when he says he caught the acting bug.
“[I] found it really intriguing and decided to go back to school at OU again,” he said. “In drama school this time.”
Theba left in 1989 and went to New York before arriving in Los Angeles in 1991. After years of waiting tables and picking up minor roles here and there, his career finally started to pick up.
“[After] 1995, since then, I really haven’t looked back,” he said.
He now joins a project alongside fellow OU grad Pallavi Sastry, who convinced the production team to come to Oklahoma to shoot this movie.
“The energy coming back is very strong,” she said. “People like [Iqbal] made it possible for me to be in the industry, and the fact that both of us went to OU, it’s really bittersweet thing to be with him working.”
Theba says that homecoming has been rewarding for him.
“It gives me a chance to come back, see my old friends,” he said. “It’s a matter of pride for me. It brings work to our state, it brings employment. Also it’s such a great marketing tool so we can project the state of Oklahoma in a positive light.”
Theba says he wants this film to show others the beauty and acceptance of this state for all people.
“[People] look at me and they go, ‘Oh my God, why Oklahoma?’ and I go ‘Why not?'”
“Land of Gold” will premiere at the 2022 Tribeca Film Festival and will then be placed on HBO Max.