Ms. Marvel: the Canadian actress stars in a new Disney series

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As Ms. Marvel fans buzzed about the new series on Disney+, at Unionville High School in Markham, Ontario, students were especially excited to see the series and its lead actor Iman Vellani.

“She was in our school, she’s one of us and a big Marvel star. It’s very cool,” said 9th grader Jahnavi Macharla.

“She makes me really proud.”

Vellani, who was born in Pakistan and moved to Canada with her parents when she was one, plays the title character, also known as Kamala Khan.

The show features Marvel’s first Muslim superhero and is based on the comic book series that launched in 2014. It’s also Vellani’s first TV series, and she says she still can’t believe she got the part.

“It’s so surreal…that’s the only way to describe it,” she recently said in an interview with CTV’s Etalk.

At Vellani High School, current students of South Asian descent told CTV News that it’s especially important to see themselves reflected in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

“Ever since I was growing up, I always saw non-South Asian characters and never saw anyone I could relate to or look up to,” said 10th grader Ishleen Thakur.

But Vellani’s casting, the students said, makes them feel more represented on screen.

“It shows who we are and that we are capable of being part of the Hollywood industry and doing a lot more than what people expect of us,” said Devanshi Seth, who is in 9th grade. “I’m really happy that she represents our culture, who we are and the school.

In high school, Vellani used to haunt a comic book store across the street called Heroes World.

She said she was a big fan of the “Iron Man” series and one day she came across Ms. Marvel. She was amazed that there was a Pakistani Muslim character with a similar past to hers.

“I didn’t have a lot of female superheroes that I looked up to, and having this comic holding a mirror in front of me was absolutely bonkers,” Vellani said. “She was Pakistani, Muslim and superhero fanatic. I was a Pakistani Muslim superhero fanatic.

Andre Greenidge, who runs Heroes World, proudly says he sold Vellani his first Ms. Marvel comic.

“I feel like I’m on a roller coaster with her, because I’m so happy for her. She totally deserves it,” Greenidge told CTV News.

“I’ve never met someone who embodies the character they’re playing so completely, so it’s really fantastic.”

Greenidge has a large collection of Ms. Marvel comics on display in the store and watched the first episode of the new series within hours of its release. He said he thought the show was really well done.

“All of a sudden people are going to know her. She’s going to be a household name – Ms. Marvel – just like people say Captain Marvel and Iron Man, they’re going to mention Ms. Marvel as well,” he said. That’s how good the character is, and that’s how good the show is.”

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