I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait for The Marvels to arrive in theaters on Nov. 10. To give you an idea of what to expect from the Marvel Cinematic Universe film, it follows Captain Marvel, Ms. Marvel, and Monica Rambeau as they team up to combat the intergalactic evil Dar-Benn. Ms. Marvel, in particular, is a character I’ve been looking forward to seeing on the big screen after she made her television debut on Disney+ in June 2022 in a miniseries under the same title.
The show followed Kamala Khan, a high school student, as she not only navigates school and college applications but also manages her newly discovered superpowers, which were activated by magical bangles. Iman Vellani, who plays Ms. Marvel, immediately became a breakout star following the series’ premiere and helped to usher in Gen Z superheroes making waves in Hollywood. In preparation for the film, I did a bit of digging on Vellani, and with a little detective work, I learned just how relatable she really is. The 21-year-old actress, like her character Kamala, is a huge Marvel comics reader, and she also has the title of writer on her resume. But, before I go any further, here are 6 facts about Iman Vellani!
1. Vellani grew up in Canada but was born in Pakistan.
Vellani was born in Karachi, Pakistan, on Sept. 3, 2002. She eventually relocated to Canada with her family when she was about a year old and spent the majority of her life there. Vellani attended a performing arts high school in Markham, Ontario, and initially had no plans to pursue acting as a career.
Instead, she told PEOPLE in a 2022 interview that she was interested in the technical side of the performing arts“No one really went into the arts after high school, so I wanted to do more tech-related stuff and work with different mediums to make art” she said. Vellani planned to attend Ontario College of Art & Design University with an emphasis on integrated media before she landedng the role of Kamala Khan aka Ms. Marvel on her final day of high school.
2. Ms. Marvel was Vellani’s first acting gig.
While appearing on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon in 2022, Vellani revealedMs. Marvel was her first acting role after graduating from high school. She elaborated on how this came to be, noting that her aunt was the one who informed her about the casting call via Whatsapp. Vellani admitted it was a little shady in retrospect, but she joked that her academic resume, her one and only headshot, and 30 hours of community service helped her land an audition.
The next day, she was asked to travel to L.A. to finish the audition process, and the rest is history. Vellani kept her acting ambitions hidden from her friends until the day they were celebrating their graduation when she received a Zoom call informing her she had landed the role of Ms. Marvel. When her friend questioned what happened and jokingly asked if she had won the lottery, Vellani said, “Basically.”
3. Vellani’s a fan of Marvel comics
I believe Vellani demonstrated the value of manifesting when she revealed in the same interview with Jimmy Fallon that she dressed up as Kamala Khan for Halloween before taking on the role. Vellani revealed that she was a huge fan of Marvel comics and was particularly fond of Iron Man, whom she used to read about in her local comic book shop near her high school. She chose to pick up the comic Iron Heart one day, which also had Ms. Marvel on the cover, and this is how her love for Kamala Khan grew. Vellani mentioned that when she was younger, she was a big fan of all things Marvel and would spend time researching different fan theories, chatting with other fans on Reddit, and even doing nail art designs.
4. Vellani Is collaborate with Marvel on a new comic for Ms. Marvel.
You read that correctly! Vellani is slated to enter the comics market with a new Ms. Marvel comic. In The Amazing Spider-Man #26, Kamala sacrificed herself to rescue the universe. Wait a minute, she dies? You may be wondering how her journey can continue with her untimely demise, but she won’t be gone for long since she’ll be back, this time as a mutant.
Ms. Marvel: The New Mutant is a new comic book in which Kamala will be a mutant but will retain her powers from the release of Terrigen Mists. With Vellani’s long history of reading Marvel comics, she chose to write about what she would be interested in as a reader! The subsequent comic is set to be released on March 19, 2024, and I don’t know about you, but I’m really looking forward to it.
5. Vellani does not have an Instagram.
Before you Marvel and devoted Vellani fans start looking for her Instagram, let me be the first to break the bad news to you. Vellani does not have her own Instagram account. However, her character, Kamala Khan, has one, where you can get updates on the Ms. Marvel universe as well as comic strip sequences and behind-the-scenes looks into Vellani’s work production.
6. Vellani’s Ms. Marvel Role encouraged her to embrace her culture and identity.
As the Marvel universe’s first Muslim superhero, Kamala Khan plays an important role in the importance of representation in Hollywood and in mainstream media. Ms. Marvel also authentically showcases and embraces Kamala’s Pakistani background, which fosters more spaces for Pakistani and South Asian people in general to be seen and heard in mainstream media.
In an interview with CBC: News The National, Vellani admitted she felt disconnected from her Pakistani identity and being Muslim as a child, but that working for Marvel and being surrounded by creatives who are also part of the many intersecting identities and are in touch with their culture has encouraged her to look back and reconnect with her roots.