Iman Vellani is a Pakistani-born Canadian actress best known for portraying Kamala Khan, the protagonist of the Disney+ miniseries Ms. Marvel (2022).
Who is Iman Vellani?
Iman Vellani is the first actor to play a Muslim superhero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The show premiered in June, two years after Vellani graduated from high school. She is set to reprise the role in the film The Marvels (2023).
Iman Vellani was born on August 12, 2002, in Karachi, Pakistani. She moved to Canada when she was only one year old and was raised in the Ismaili faith, a branch of Shia Islam. She attended Unionville High School in Markham, Ontario, where she recently graduated from.
During the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival, Vellani was selected as a TIFF Next Wave Committee member. She had planned to pursue integrated media at the Ontario College of Art & Design University before being cast in Ms. Marvel at the end of her last year of high school.
Becoming Ms. Marvel
Vellani had to change her post-graduation plans after getting the role. Rather than starting college at the Ontario College of Art & Design University in Toronto, she began filming Ms. Marvel’s first season.
“I think we really wanted to lean into that coming of age, corny vibe because being a kid as being a teenager is so embarrassing sometimes and cringy,” Vellani told Esquire Middle East about the tone of the show. “We wanted to really embrace all of that. I think our show is quite self-aware about how corny it is.”
It was revealed in September 2020 that Vellani was cast as the Marvel Cinematic Universe superhero Kamala Khan for Marvel Studios and Disney+’s streaming television miniseries Ms. Marvel.
After submitting a self-tape, Vellani had been asked to audition in person in Los Angeles and have two screen tests: an in-person one in February that year and a virtual one over Zoom in June.
According to Sana Amanat, Kamala Khan’s co-creator, who also served as an executive producer on the series, Vellani, in her Zoom screen test, revealed that she, like Khan, is an Avengers fangirl.
“She showed me every corner of her room, and it was covered with Avengers. Then she said. ‘Oh, wait; I’m not done,’ opened up her closer, and there was more Marvel everywhere.”
Ms. Marvel premiered on Disney+ on June 8, 2022, marking Vellani’s onscreen debut. The series, as well as Vellani’s portrayal of the title character, received positive reviews. Mohammad Zaheer of BBC Culture called her “an adorable bundle of charisma” in a role “tailor-made for her.” while Kathryn Porter of Paste wrote that Vellani “shines in the role” and that there was “no way to explain how great she is in this other than to say that she embodies the true spirit of Kamala Khan.”
The miniseries concluded on July 13, 2022, consisting of six episodes, and Vellani is set to reprise her role as Kamala Khan in the 2023 film “The Marvels.”