Pakistani-born Zoha Rahman was a relatively unknown actress and model until she moved to the United Kingdom to study law but took a year out to pursue acting and modelling.
In the upcoming sequel Spider-Man: Far From Home, Zoha Rahman plays Spider-Man’s classmate joining him on a field trip across Europe. And since the student in the first film was just an extra, Rahman is now officially the first hijab wearing character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Rahman is, thereby, playing the first official hijab-wearing character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). The actor has wanted to audition for the role ever since she noticed a Muslim student wearing a hijab in the background of Parker’s math class. This blockbuster had just depicted a Muslim character as a regular part of American life. Rahman saw this as what it was: a huge step forward for Muslim representation.
Now various media outlets caught up with Zoha and we also want to know who this mystery Muslim girl in a Marvel movie is.
She posted on Instagram, 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.
Initially, no one mentioned anything about Rahman wearing a hijab. It was much later, in a second call from the production team, that she was asked if she would be willing to make this addition. The budding starlet immediately tied on her mother’s scarf and sent pictures back to them.
However, Rahman still sees the entertainment industry far behind in terms of inclusion. While she’s happy to see projects like Black Panther make strides, she knows South Asians and Muslims have a long road ahead. “We are still stuck in that little caricature stage,” said Rahman. “I call it the ‘Trio of Ts.’ We’re either the techie, the terrorist, or the taxi driver.”
Spider-Man: Far from Home will have the main gang all back for round two with the additions of some new faces, including Rahman, and the Hollywood star Jake Gyllenhaal, who’s joining the Marvel universe as Mysterio. The film hit theatres on July 2.