Marvel has it’s first ‘Hijabi’ character in Spiderman: Far From Home. The actress essaying the role is a Pakistani-born British actress Zoha Rahman.
When this girl posted about her role in Spider-Man: Far from Home trailer as a hijabi, social media was lit. Since then there’s been buzz around who she is.
Now various media outlets caught up with Zoha and we also want to know who this mystery Muslim girl in a Marvel movie is.
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This is the hardest, and by far the best secret I’ve ever had to keep. . . When I was asked if I was happy to wear a hijab for this role I basically jumped into it, full force, sent selfies in a dupatta as a hijab straight away to the casting director. . . You see, I was a little brown girl who watched movies and adverts and tv shows and cartoons and billboards but never saw herself. So this was a private little mission, to see myself where little brown girls didn’t belong. And as this grew, I realised how selfish I had been to think I was the only one thinking and feeling and hoping the way I was. So this one’s for all of us little brown girls, all of us little girls, all of us little boys, all of us changing the stories we tell from now on ✨ . . 📸 PC @remyhii 📸
Zoha Rahman talked about her iconic role as Peter Parker’s Muslim friend. She feels a hijabi character will help break barriers in Hollywood.
Its good to see that Hollywood is actually trying to be inclusive for a change, especially when it comes to Muslim characters. We all know how Hollywood didn’t focus on inclusivity until the whole furore over #WhiteOscars happened. Many artists from minority backgrounds rallied to boycott the Oscars for white-washing most roles and issues.
Since then Hollywood has been trying harder. Hollywood casting people of color (POC) and minority groups like Muslims in stereotypical roles and as villains used to be common (and still is to a certain extent).
But films like Black Panther, Crazy Rich Asians, and more are trying to break new ground. And now we have a hijabi Muslim girl in Spiderman: Far From Home.
Zoha Rahman is an aspiring actress with a handful of roles on her portfolio. Yet, her Marvel role has changed everything.
The actress explained that by sheer coincidence, her modeling agency sent over her profile for a top-secret role in a film. Zoha didn’t find out till the last minute which movie she was auditioning for.
“Marvel and Sony take their confidentiality very seriously, so I only found out five minutes before what the part was for and I didn’t have time to fully process it,………..I was at a train station when I got the call from production telling me I got the part.”
Hollywood Needs to Do Better
Zoha Rahman believes that the Muslim identity as a whole is being used as an agenda in the media. Hollywood is no different with its lack of accurate representation for these groups.
“I feel like the Muslim identity is used as an agenda in the media, we rarely see someone who is going about their life and just happens to be a Muslim. I do see a change, but it needs to get better on a much larger scale.”
As a brown Muslim working on a Hollywood set, it was a surprising experience for Zoha.
“In all my years of dreaming about working on a Hollywood set, I never thought it would become a reality,….It’s a sad by-product of the lack of representation on screen that actors like myself never truly believe in themselves.”
Zoha cannot spill the beans on her character. In terms of representation, we’ll have to see the movie to see how well a job they did.
“The roles that are on offer for actors of colour, like me, are limited,…..It’s always a sidekick, or a best friend or a shopkeeper. I want to work towards getting into audition rooms where I am seen as an actor who can play any role, not just the ‘South Asian woman’ or the ‘Muslim woman’.”
Spiderman Far From Home Release
Spiderman: Far From Home also cast Zendaya, Samuel L Jackson and Jake Gyllenhaal in pivotal roles. And of course, there’s Tom Holland himself as the titular web-slinging superhero.
Zoha’s experience in working with these stars was surreal. She says even the biggest stars were friendly and approachable.
“When you’re on set, everyone is professional and nice, so it felt completely normal to work with them.”
Spider-Man: Far from Home release date is set for July, 2nd in the United States. The movie will hit theaters later in Pakistan.