Success arrived early for Shawkat and she continues to establish herself as a highly sought-after actress in both film and television. Shawkat can currently be seen in Amazon Studios’ critically acclaimed feature film Being the Ricardos from Academy Award® winner, writer and director Aaron Sorkin. Shawkat stars opposite Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem as legendary I Love Lucy writer Madelyn Pugh. On television, she has starred for five seasons in the breakout hit HBO Max genre-bending mystery comedy Search Party. The show, which premiered at the 2016 SXSW Film Festival as part of the Official TV Selection category, has garnered Shawkat much critical praise for her performance as the shows lead “Dory.” The Los Angeles Times raved, “It's Shawkat, with her non-standard corkscrew hair and glorious profusion of freckles, who drives the show, bringing an intensity into Dory's most unfocused, unsure moments.” GQ added, “Shawkat, naturally, is peerless as Dory. In a career littered by real, vulnerable roles, Dory is probably her best work yet.”
Shawkat was recently seen alongside Oscar Isaac in the Oscar®-nominated short film The Letter Room from writer/director Elvira Lind. Following a successful festival run, the short film went on to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film in 2021. She also starred opposite Holliday Grainger in the independent drama Animals, based on the Emma Jane Unsworth novel. In 2018 she starred in the independent film Duck Butter, which she co-wrote with Miguel Arteta and executive produced alongside Arteta and the Duplass Brothers. The film premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival, where she was awarded Best Actress in a U.S. Narrative Feature. In 2018 she also starred opposite songwriter and musician Ben Dickey in the indie biopic Blaze. The film, directed by Ethan Hawke, tells the story of country and western songwriter Blaze Foley and premiered in competition at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival.
Shawkat’s career began at the age of 11 with her feature film debut as a young Iraqi child in David O. Russell’s Three Kings opposite George Clooney. Her projects include Amber Tamblyn’s directorial debut Paint It Black, based on the book of the same name by author Janet Fitch, Netflix’s Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday, produced by Paul Reubens and Judd Apatow and indie thriller Green Room alongside Anton Yelchin, Imogen Poots and Sir Patrick Stewart. Her additional feature credits include Mike Mills’ 20th Century Women, Clea DuVall’s directorial debut The Intervention, Adam Green’s independent film Aladdin, comedic indie thriller The Final Girls, Sebastián Silva’s Nasty Baby (which she co-produced), The Oranges opposite Allison Janney, Oliver Platt and Hugh Laurie, Cedar Rapids directed by Miguel Arteta, Drew Barrymore’s directorial debut Whip It opposite Elliot Page and Cherien Dabis’ Amreeka, which debuted at the Sundance Film Festival, among others.
Well known for her role of “Maeby Fünke” on FOX’s Emmy® Award winning cult comedy series Arrested Development, Shawkat revisited the role with all new episodes of the series for Netflix. She played a prominent role in the fourth season of Jill Soloway's critically acclaimed Amazon Prime Video’s series Transparent and returned for the show’s two-hour series finale. Shawkat was recently seen on the small screen guest-starring on the Emmy-nominated Drunk History, IFC’s Portlandia, Comedy Central’s Broad City and in a recurring role on HBO’s Getting On.
Born in Palm Springs, CA, Shawkat currently lives in Los Angeles. Off-screen, she is an accomplished painter and illustrator. Shawkat’s art can be viewed her website MutantAlia.com.