Iman Vellani is living the dream. As a superfan of Marvel and the MCU, she now gets to play Kamala Khan, who is also a superfan of the heroes of her own world. She just happens to also gain out of this world abilities to become a superhero herself. On top of it all, she was a Pakistani-American who became an icon for many that wanted to see themselves in comics. That story isn’t too different for Vellani, as she shares in an interview with Variety.
My first introduction to her was through “Ironheart”; she was on the cover of one of the comics and I was like “Who is this brown person?” I just went into a wormhole, falling in love with the character and the creators Sana Amanat and G. Willow Wilson. I watched their TED Talks and all their interviews and I was like “They have the dream job. I want to be them. They’re brown and they’re working at Marvel.”Iman Vellani
It became a big inspiration for her, as it seemed like it would be possible for her to find a footing within the industry herself. They were an inspiration for Vellani just as much as the character in the comics.
That was so incredibly eye-opening for me because I didn’t realize there was space for someone like me in the industry — and I know that sounds super cheesy or whatever, but it’s so true. Beyond representation on screen, seeing ethnic names in the credits matters so much. I didn’t know what I wanted to do in high school; I just wanted to try everything behind the camera, because I was really in love with the tech stuff, so seeing these people thriving working at Marvel was so inspiring.Iman Vellani
Of course, there’s more to this story. Vellani shared how she connected with the character and how “very close to home” it was reading her stories, as she stands by her moral code as well as how her family and friends were important to her story.
On top of that, Kamala was a Pakistani Muslim superhero fanatic; I was a Pakistani Muslim superhero fanatic. And [the story] wasn’t about her being Pakistani, or about being Muslim, it was about her being in love with superheroes and having this innate desire to want to help people and do the right thing because she has powers. She doesn’t know how to fight — she’s a 16-year-old kid — but she knows that she has to use them for good. She had such a strong moral code and I really admired how her family and friends were also part of her story and her friends. It felt very close to home. It felt like my life, like the comics were written about me, literally.Iman Vellani
In a way, Vellani was the perfect choice to bring this character to life, as she connects with her in so many different ways. It’ll be exciting to see what she brings to the experience as the series has now started airing on Disney+ with more episodes on the way.