When School of Rock came out in 2003, audiences were just as blown away by Maryam Hassan's vocal ability as Jack Black's character, Dewey Finn. The moment that Hassan as budding artist Tomika belts out Aretha Franklin's "Chain of Fools" is one of the most memorable moments in the comedy, although she was just in middle school at the time. The young performer all but steals the show as the fourth grader, who can not only sing but also helps lead her classroom to victory at the Battle of the Bands. While the movie is considered by many to be a classic, it's still Hassan's only film credit. Read on to find out what career she's been pursuing instead and to see her today.
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She named her own character.
In 2021, Hassan revealed to Vulture that although she got the part almost immediately after her audition, it wasn't quite a fit yet. Her character originally had a different name, and she wasn't connecting with it.
"As soon as I got a script, I met the other kids and started going through the scenes. I was the last one to get cast, so it was a little bit more rushed for me than the others," she explained. "The first day, actually, they told me that my character's name was Laurie. I was like, Uh, I'm not a Laurie. I was like, 'This doesn't sound like me.' I asked some people if I could change her name to Tomika."
Hassan added, "I pulled that name out of the sky. It had a little more flavor to it. I don't know Laurie. I know Tomika. I gave it a shot, and they said it was perfectly fine."
She never acted in another movie.
Despite the success of School of Rock, the movie remains Hassan's only acting role. She told Vulture that she auditioned for other roles but ran into some "hiccups" because casting directors weren't quite sure what to do with her.
"I was 10 years old at the time, but I was bigger in size and taller than the average kid that age," the former child star explained. "I looked more like I was 15. I would go every single day after school to an audition and maybe get a callback. And you know what? I realized I didn't enjoy it. It was discouraging. After a few months I told my mother that I wasn't interested in doing it anymore and I wanted to focus solely on music ."
She's a musician.
Hassan left acting behind and put all her efforts toward her music career. She currently performs and releases music under the name Mayrehnate (pronounced "Mare-En-NATE," according to her Instagram bio). She released an EP called Plush in January 2021, and just this year, a new single called "Feel a Way." That music and some additional R&B singles are available to stream on Spotify and other services.
In June of this year, Hassan shared some shots and video of her performing live in New York City.
"I hadn't been on stage in YEAARSSSSSS before this performance and as nerve wrecking as it was to think about doing it, it felt SO GOOD to be back on stage and performing my music live for the very first time since releasing (in my hometown AT THAT)," she wrote on Instagram. "I want to thank ALL of my family and friends that really showed up and showed the [expletive] out. The love was so apparent and I'm so grateful for you all."
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She runs her own company.
In addition to making music, Hassan is also an influencer and a model. She posts videos of her hair and makeup routines and BTS shots of her shooting ad campaigns for brands. On top of that, she co-owns a marketing company called MAHJ, which is based in Atlanta, Georgia. The company helps online content creators build their brand and grow their business.
She's reunited with the School of Rock cast.
In 2013, the cast of School of Rock got together in Austin, Texas to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the film. And obviously, it was a rager, which featured the now grown-up band getting back on stage with star Jack Black.
In a reunion interview with Entertainment Weekly that same year, Hassan reflected on how the movie changed her life. "I went to the movie premieres," she said. "I went to the MTV Movie Awards and met Omarion and Bow Wow. I was 10, so I was like, 'Oh my God, is this a dream?'"