Iman Vellani is the first actor to play a Muslim superhero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Her character, Ms. Marvel, debuted in the 2022 TV series ‘Ms. Marvel’ and will appear in the 2023 movie ‘The Marvels.’
Who Is Iman Vellani?
Iman Vellani is the star of the TV series ‘Ms. Marvel,’ in which she plays the first Muslim superhero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The show premiered in June 2022, two years after Vellani graduated from high school.
Iman Vellani was born on September 3, 2002, in Karachi, Pakistan to a Muslim family. When she was about a year old, her family moved to Markham, Ontario in Canada. Growing up, Vellani enjoyed reading comics about Marvel Comics’ first Muslim superhero: Kamala Khan (a.k.a Ms. Marvel).
Khan is a Pakistani-American teen living in Jersey City, New Jersey who idolizes superheroes and then becomes one. The character made her comic book debut in 2013 and got her own comic series in 2014. Vellani was such a fan that she even dressed up as Ms. Marvel one year for Halloween.
Auditioning for Ms. Marvel
Although Vellani got involved with theater in high school, she didn’t plan on being an actor. When she heard about the casting call for a series based on the Ms. Marvel comics through her aunt, she decided to pursue the opportunity. At the time, Vellani was attending Unionville High School in Markham. She submitted an audition tape and quickly booked an in-person audition in Los Angeles.
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With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Vellani had to finish her senior year of high school remotely. On her last day of school, she learned Marvel Studios had officially cast her as Ms. Marvel.
Becoming Ms. Marvel
Getting the role meant that Vellani had to change her post-graduation plans. Instead of starting college at the Ontario College of Art & Design University in Toronto, 18-year-old Vellani began filming the first season of Ms. Marvel.
“I think we really wanted to lean into that coming of age, corny vibe, because being a kid as being a teenager is so embarrassing sometimes and cringy,” Vellani told Esquire Middle East about the tone of the show. “We wanted to really embrace all of that. I think our show is quite self-aware about how corny it is.”
The six-episode season premiered in June 2022 on Disney+. By the time the show aired, Vellani was already set to reappear as Ms. Marvel in the 2023 movie The Marvels.