Moon Knight, despite the character’s relatively low-profile presence in the comics, is now firmly entrenched in the Marvel Cinematic Universe following the successful run of the series on Disney+ from March to May. The show was filled with firsts for Marvel Studios, including a deep look into dissociative identity disorder (DID) with Oscar Isaac’s characters Steven Grant, Marc Spector, and Jake Lockley.
Most importantly, Moon Knight introduced audiences to the first Egyptian hero — May Calamawy as the Scarlet Scarab. Calamawy co-starred alongside Isaac as Layla El-Faouly, the estranged wife of Marc Spector. Instead of being just a love interest for the main character, Moon Knight empowered El-Faouly to be independent and powerful on her own as her story in the Disney+ showcased.
In a recent interview with Yasmine Kandil from Discussing Film, Calamawy was asked if she like feels like there has been a recent shift in MENA representation both in front and behind the camera. Here’s what she had to say:
I really do. I experienced it on Moon Knight and I’m lucky to experience it also on Ramy, there are Arabs on that show which is a testament to Ramy [Youssef], he’s very selective with who he brings on board. With Moon Knight, it’s a testament to Kevin Feige and that whole team for creating that space. We are in a time where I think we’ve realized that the only way to get closer to how a region really feels is to have people most intimately bring it there, and usually that will be either people who’ve lived there or understand it at a very deep level.May Calamawy
She goes on to also compare how creating these spaces for all is important and how opening beyond Western beauty standards also further anchors the importance of modern representation.
I know so many women who are from the Middle East, one of my best friends is from Pakistan, we’re all actors working on our craft and I really want there to be a space for us all. I never want someone to question if they are pretty enough because I went through thinking I wasn’t pretty enough to be in a Western production and it’s an embarrassing thought to have, but I’m not going to say it wasn’t there. Often Western beauty standards don’t include how everyone around the world looks and representation is going to help us to feel that freedom and I think that’s happening more and more.May Calawamy
Calamawy also discussed her decision to keep her curls for the show, which is something she said she struggled with growing up:
One thing that’s been amazing to see is that so many women have posted that they are wearing their hair curly, or that they’re throwing out their hair irons and that’s what makes me happy because I had to go through my own journey of accepting my curls and feeling beautiful. There was a time when I left them curly and I can’t say I felt beautiful, looking back it pains me. I went through that and thank god I feel good in my curls now, but I wish everyone grew up that way. If that’s something Layla can bring to others, then I’m so happy.May Calamawy
She highlighted that she brought in a hairpiece that mimicked her hair during production. It mostly served as a way to keep continuity.
They brought in a hairpiece that mimicked my hair. In the beginning, they even suggested we straighten it and I did that too much growing up. I didn’t want to go back to that, so I was really adamant about them getting a hairpiece for continuity’s sake because curls, they will do what they want. Marvel really delivered because I loved it and they could just put it on and my hair was ready. It really helped me step into Layla and it was bigger than my own hair which was really fun.May Calamawy
As for the future of the Scarlet Scarab in the MCU, no project has been officially announced involving the character. While there have been rumors of a Moon Knight Season 2, nothing has been revealed. But with the cliffhanger ending to the first season, it would not be a surprise to see these characters on-screen again in the future.
Source: Discussing Film