Ali Khan (History, 2022) is an actor and recent King’s graduate. Murder-mystery fans may recognise Ali from his role as Nicholas Holland in A Haunting in Venice (2023), where he stars alongside Kenneth Branagh, Michelle Yeoh, Jamie Dornan, and other famous faces.
A love of education runs in the Khan family, and Ali follows in the footsteps of his mother, Sadi Khan MBE (Microbiology, 1996), an award-winning entrepreneur and cultural awareness trainer.
Sadi’s grandparents were proud pioneers of education in their home region of Azad Kashmir (Pakistan). Her grandmother was the first female teacher in her village, while her grandfather gave away his land to the people of Poonch (his local district), so they could build a university.
Sadi and Ali share their thoughts on continuing this legacy, getting into acting, and the key part King’s has played in their lives.
Setting the scene
Ali discovered a love of acting through his local Blockbusters, where he went every day from the age of about three. He recalls calling the staff 'Aunty' and 'Uncle' and pestering them into renting him movies like Goodfellas, which he admits he was far too young to watch!
One staff member encouraged Sadi to let her son audition for the TV Workshop in Nottingham. Ali’s audition was successful, and the rest is history. He told us: ‘I would go there every week to do improv, script work and hang out with the other kids. It was such a lovely community.’
At the age of nine, Ali landed his first role in a short film called Arjun and Akash. He remembers being so excited to be in a 'movie' that he laughed his way through every scene.
Sadi Khan’s King’s journey began in 1994. Married at the time, Sadi was experiencing difficulties at home, and King’s provided her with a safe space to study. She describes her project teacher, Professor Ann Wood, as a ‘lifesaver’, supporting her both mentally and academically.
In 2004, Sadi founded Noble Khan, the UK’s only licensed cultural awareness training centre – inspired by her then-husband's experience of racial discrimination at work. In 2018 she was awarded an MBE for services to cultural and religious training and voluntary service to vulnerable women.
Sadi credits her time at King’s for helping develop her internal confidence and make positive changes. ‘King's set the foundation for me, for my future’, she explained.
As soon as Ali was born, Sadi knew she wanted him to study at King’s, and be able to enjoy university life free from constant stress and worries – a chance she didn’t get.
Ali was also dead set on a London university, having visited the city for various auditions. London to him was ‘exciting, vibrant, diverse’ and a far cry from his hometown of Nottingham.
Originally set to study Politics and International Relations at King’s, Ali ended up doing History, which he feels he was much better suited to. In his third year, he took a South Asian International Relations module. Ali says the course shaped his outlook on life, in particular Dr Reza Zia-Ebrahimi's seminars on Race, Orientalism and Islamophobia.