If you’ve never heard of Canadian actor Iman Vellani, believe us when we say this is all about to change.
Iman, the latest addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, takes the lead in the new Disney+ original series Ms. Marvel, which revolves around a superhero-obsessed teenager, Kamala Khan, who begins to develop her own powers.
After just one episode, the show got a lot of acclaim from critics and those famously picky Marvel fans alike, so it’s inevitable we’ll be seeing a lot more of the 19-year-old in the near future.
To get to know her a little better, here are 18 facts about Iman Vellani that you probably didn’t know…
1. Like her Ms. Marvel character, Iman is a huge fan of the superhero world
In fact, the walls of Iman’s nursery were plastered with characters from the MCU.
Recalling a Zoom call with the young star, Ms. Marvel co-creator Sana Amanat told Empire:She showed me every corner of her room and it was covered in Avengers. Then she said, ‘Oh wait, I’m not done yet,’ opened her closet and there was more Marvel everywhere.’
“I have so much love for this character and for the Marvel universe and that’s really what drove me,” Aman also told People magazine.
2. In fact, years before she was cast, she once dressed up as Mrs. Marvel for Halloween
Iman told Vogue, “I must have been 15 or 16. My grandma and I sewed the Ms Marvel costume together and I wore it for Halloween.
“Absolutely no one knew who I was except my English teacher, who was also a comic book geek. Everyone thought I was The Flash, which was really annoying. I had to cross the street, buy a Ms Marvel comic and carry it with me. ”
“But who’s laughing now?” she added.
3. Although Kamala reveres Captain Marvel, Iman herself is more of an Iron Man girl
She has quoted Tony Stark in multiple interviews and even said she would honor Robert Downey Jr’s character if she attended an actual Marvel convention.
4. Iman’s love for Marvel means she feels the pressure to do things right
When asked if she felt pressured to represent the Muslim community in Ms. Marvel, Iman admitted to Refinery 29: “I have didn’t really worry about that… Honestly, I felt more pressured on the fan culture side.
“Honestly, to just be a nerd and represent other nerds was scary because I wanted to do the fandom justice because the Marvel fandom can be very picky…I would know!”
5. It also means she’s been a little light-hearted on set
“AvengerCon is what my dreams look like,” she told Entertainment Weekly. “I enjoyed filming there so much. It was very distracting: Every time we went to cut, I would wander off the set just looking at all the little Easter eggs our set of Dec people had put down. I stole so much from that set too. I took boxes home.
“I have a lot of posters, a lot of T-shirts, a lot of hats and sunglasses. Got some cool mugs and Funkos. Just everything there was!
“On my first day, my assistant and I went around taking pictures of everything I wanted to steal, and on the last day, when I said goodbye to people, she put things in bags and we sent everything home.”
6. Besides a comic book lover, Iman is also a real movie lover
Before becoming famous, Iman was chosen as part of the Toronto International Film Festival’s Next Wave Committee, a group of teen cinema enthusiasts who select films from the event to highlight for younger viewers (she gave a special push to the Georgian queer coming -of- age film And Then We Danced at the time).
You can also read her candid reviews of various films on her Letterboxd page.
7. She has a similar backstory to her character
Born in Pakistan, Iman moved to Canada when she was one year old, where she grew up and attended high school.
8. Iman found out that Disney was looking for someone to play Kamala Khan on WhatsApp
“My aunt got the casting call through a WhatsApp forward and it was literally a blank page that said ‘Ms. Marvel Disney+ Casting, send a picture and continue here,'” she told Variety, admitting it all looked “superb looked vague, but I did it anyway”.
She also revealed that it only started to feel real when she received a nondisclosure agreement from Disney for her audition.
9. The casting process was rocked by the pandemic and she ended up being thrown deep into the clutches of Covid
“Shortly after my audition, which was in February 2020, the pandemic hit,” she told Vogue.
“I haven’t been able to do my other LA screen test – they moved it to June. I was like, ‘I need to accept offers from college and figure out what I’m going to do if I don’t get the part’.”
10. Luckily she didn’t have to worry about anything and found out she got the part of Mrs. Marvel on her last day of high school
The story goes that she was hanging out with her friends just like any other teenager when the call from Marvel boss Kevin Feige came in.
11. Being a part of the show and getting to know her castmates helped Iman learn more and connect with her own heritage
About co-stars Rish Shah and Saagar Shaikh, Iman said:We watched movies and thanks to Rish and Saagar I started listening to Bollywood music. I didn’t really have many South Asian friends growing up.
“We talked about being tan and how disconnected you sometimes feel from your culture when you grow up, and that was something special to share with those guys.”
She added to The Guardian:Growing up, I felt very disconnected from my culture and religion because I grew up in Canada. I had no brown friends who did not come from my mosque and I did not associate with them.
“When filming the show, I learned so much about my ancestors. That’s something special that I get to share with the character, and it’s because I’ve worked with so many incredible creators from Muslim or Pakistani backgrounds.†
12. She said she relates to many of her teenage character’s struggles
In particular, the fact that Kamala’s name is repeatedly mispronounced is something that appeals to her.
“In grade school, there was a teacher who always called me an Apple product, like I-Man, iPod,” she told Variety. “I hate it when people emphasize ‘man’ because my name means ‘Faith’; it is a very important Arabic word, especially in the Quran.
“You’re used to people not understanding and you grow up wanting to change your name, you hate your name and you don’t see the meaning of these words. Kamala’s name also means ‘perfection’, or a miracle, in Arabic. Names are so important and, I can say this for myself, once I come to terms with how cool my name is and how rare it is for people to have a name like mine, it’s a big step to self-acceptance to take .”
13. So much so, that she’s actually advised on certain character choices
“I was 17 when I was cast so they used me as a resource and I was more than happy to give my input because it’s annoying when adults make shows about kids and they do everything wrong or make everything as general as possible,” she says. told Vogue.
“We wanted to tell a specific story and make Kamala realistic and recognizable. I talked to them about the kind of guys I was in love with, my favorite teachers, the kind of drama that would happen in my high school.
Iman continued, “I remember telling them about my guidance counselor and how much I really didn’t like him — I think they put this guidance counselor scene after that which is a big moment for Kamala.”
14. Iman hopes the Ms Marvel TV adaptation could have an impact on how South Asian stories are told on screen
In an interview with Refinery 29, Iman said:I hope Mrs. Marvel is not the end of seeing Muslims and Pakistanis in Hollywood. I really think we’re creating space for more inclusivity and hopefully this show inspires more South Asian creatives to tell their story.
“This is just one story of one girl from one family with one character, and we can’t represent all two billion South Asians and Muslims, can we? So hopefully this gets the ball rolling a bit for more representation in Hollywood.
15 If you want to follow Iman on social media, you’re out of luck
Iman previously had a rarely updated Instagram profile, although this was removed not long after news of her casting was made public.
“The amount of attention I’m getting in the coming months is just going to be a juggernaut. And this is my way of facilitating the process,” she explained to The Guardian.
16. In addition to acting, Iman has a keen interest in behind-the-scenes work
She has already tried directing short films, which can be viewed on her Vimeo page, and said she wants to focus on cinematography.
17. But for now, her next project is ready – The Marvels
After her debut in Ms Marvel, she’s ready to share the screen with Captain Marvel herself, Brie Larson and WandaVision’s Teyona Parris. Samuel L Jackson will also star as Nick Fury.
18. And she’s already gotten a lot of mentorship from Brie Larson
“Brie actually contacted me a week after I got the part,” Iman told E! News. “We spent hours talking via video chat and sharing stories.”
She continued: “I listened to her and gave me very good advice on how to take care of yourself because you can get lost in this world and everything can get super overwhelming and it’s a lot of emotions and new experiences.
“It was just really reassuring to hear that someone as established and successful as Brie is having the same issues as me.”
In a separate interview, Iman told AP:Brie hangs on my wall and she’s in my phone book. So, that’s weird.”
The first episode of Ms Marvel is now available to watch on Disney+.
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