Growing up, Fawzia Mirza abstained from alcohol, avoided boys, and went to law school. In short, she played the part of a good Muslim daughter. But at 29, Mirza quit her job, came out as queer, and gave up law to pursue acting. Now the West Loop resident has woven elements of her real life into the film Signature Move, premiering in March at South by Southwest.

On being raised Muslim

“My mom made us speak Urdu, study the Koran, and wear cultural clothes. It was important to her that we stayed connected. Being a Muslim, a brown girl, is an inextricable part of who I am.”

On embracing her sexuality

“It took me a long time. It was around the time my father died. I had just started dating women and it clicked. I think [in the eyes of] many people, by claiming who I was, unapologetically, I became an activist.”

On writing Signature Move

“When people tell stories about Chicago, they talk about jazz, shootings, or mob life, but they don’t talk about how Chicago has one of the country’s largest populations of South Asian and Mexican people. I feel it’s my responsibility to bring in authentic voices.”