Iman Vellani’s last day of school was good training for her role as Marvel’s first Muslim superhero.
She hadn’t told her buddies that she auditioned for Disney Plus’ six-part TV series Ms. Marvel – so when they found out there was plenty of drama.
Iman, 19, said: “I will never forget it. It was the last day of high school and my friends didn’t know I auditioned.
“I was in my friend’s car and got a text message from our casting directors telling me to follow this link.
“I got out of the car, opened the link, and it was Marvel President Kevin Feige who said I had the job.
“I freaked out when my friends looked at me in complete confusion because I hadn’t told them anything.
“They thought I won the lottery or something.
“I told them everything and then we got burritos. It was a good day.”
Pakistan-born Iman stars in the show as Kamala Khan – part of the new generation of superheroes, led by women and ethnically diverse characters.
Kamala is 16, from Jersey City and obsessed with The Avengers, especially Captain Marvel. She loves how superheroes fight crime and look cool while doing it.
Like her character, Iman, who moved to Canada when she was a year old, is a huge comics fan.
And she says reading the Ms. Marvel comics has helped her get through some tough times.
“I deal with her a lot,” Iman said. “I think we can relate to that feeling of not belonging. I can also totally relate to the fact that she’s a huge nerd.
“This fascination and excitement about The Avengers is so real… something that all fans of the Marvel cinematic universe will get.
“MS. Marvel is a story about identity and reconnecting with your past and your culture.
“Kamala is so many different things, but we really set out to subvert all of those labels and expectations that are thrown at her.
“She’s not just Muslim, she’s not just Pakistani, she’s this amalgamation of a hundred different things that makes her who she is.
“If we don’t have the same impact on people that the comics have on me, I’m going to be really disappointed.”
The first episode of Ms. Marvel was released on Disney+ in the UK on Wednesday.
Series executive producer Sana Amanat, who co-created the comic, said, “It’s a coming-of-age story … she’s a young woman experiencing the world.
“I think it’s great that we’re getting a lot more Muslim representatives – but until now there have been no women.”