British-Pakistani pop star Zayn Malik says he has been startled by the welcoming spirit of the United States and might even consider running for office in his new home.
The former One Direction heartthrob said he was “a bit shocked” at first by the friendliness of Americans and felt that the country was being “misrepresented across the globe”.
“No matter what colour, what gender, what sexuality, what class — none of that matters here. People genuinely want to know you for who you are. And that’s how America should be represented across the world,” the 25-year-old singer told GQ in the fashion magazine’s latest issue.
Asked if he would consider running for office himself, he said: “Maybe. It’d be cool. I feel like it’s a beautiful place.”
Zayn, who has gone only by his first name since launching his solo career, is partially of Pakistani descent and is one of the most visible Muslims in Western pop music.
After leaving One Direction in 2015, Zayn moved to Los Angeles and more recently New York as he shifted style sharply from the squeaky clean boy band, singing R&B-infused tracks heavy on sex appeal.
His arrival in the United States coincided with the rise of President Donald Trump, who during his campaign called for a ban on Muslims entering the country.
But Zayn said that one effect of the political climate is that Americans are “expressing how they really feel about where they come from and their heritage and their backgrounds.”
“So that’s how I feel about it — it’s a beautiful place, and it’s a beautiful time to be alive.”