Being a teenager is hard enough when you don't have the added pressure of being a practicing Muslim, let alone the daughter of the most conservative Muslim in town. Layla's parents split up when she was little leaving Baber to raise her on his own. She loves her father, but he's not the most understanding person when it comes to embracing western culture. It's not that Layla doesn't appreciate her Muslim heritage it's just that she doesn't base her entire identity around it. As a first generation Canadian, Layla can appreciate what it's like to feel caught between two worlds. While she's eager to try new things and fit in at school, she understands the importance of being a respectful daughter. Whenever Layla has a tough time trying to get her father to understand her she has plenty of people to turn to for support. Fatima is always the first person to tell Baber he's overreacting while Rayyan champions Layla's right to choose for herself. Layla continues to struggle with most things that Muslim teenagers face, such as dating and deciding whether or not to wear the hijab. With one more year left before graduation, Layla has no shortage of important decisions ahead of her.
ALIZA VELANI is a Canadian born daughter of Indian immigrants from East Africa. She lives in Vancouver. The role of Layla in the Little Mosque on the Prairie is Aliza's first major assignment in the entertainment industry. Aliza has also appeared in Nickelodeon's The Troop, as well as Carl Bessai's upcoming film, Fathers and Sons. Her extensive training includes acting, dancing, improv, singing and taekwando. She began dance classes in jazz and hip hop when she was 5 years old. Aliza's dancing skills extend to bollywood style dancing as well. In high school, she was an active member of the drama class and senior improv team. She also coached her school's junior improv team for 3 years. She received both the BC (2007 & 2008) and National Istar Award for Arts and Culture (2007).