Ms. Marvel Not only does it mark the Marvel Cinematic Universe debut for the titular character, aka Kamala Khan, but it also marks the first acting role for Disney+ series star Iman Vellani. The MCU is filled to the brim with superstars who have been in the industry for years, as seen recently with Oscar Isaac as Moon Knight or Charlize Theron as Clea, so it’s great to see that the studio is always looking for aspiring actors for its next big thing.
At a press conference for Ms. Marvel assisted by CBR, attendees learned exactly how a recent high school graduate ended up on the MCU’s radar, and it’s all thanks to WhatsApp. According to the press conference moderator, Vellani received the casting call from her aunt on the Messenger app. As Vellani reminisced, she admitted it seemed like a weird way to get a Marvel cast.
“February 2022, I’m pushing WhatsApp forward,” Vellani described. “I thought it was a scam. I don’t know what casting calls look like, but it’s not white pages that say, ‘Ms. Marvel, Disney+ and headshot and resume here. ‘ So it turned out to be real… [I] sent in a very academic resume, the only photo I had of myself, and they sent me the sides back for the self-tape.”
Despite initial doubts, this was a legit cast. Once Vellani received more information after sending her initial documents, she realized how real it was, which made her doubt herself. Fans of the show are certainly thrilled that she went through the rest of the audition process.
“I knew exactly what comics they were pulling them from,” Vellani added, “and I was like, ‘Okay, this is real. I can not do it. I was looking for excuses for fear of failure, and at 3 am on the evening when it was due, I sent my self-cassette. I was like, ‘My 10-year-old self is going to hate me if I don’t even try. Two days later, I receive a call… They say to me: “Do you have a lawyer? We want to take you to Los Angeles.” I was like, ‘I have a math test, but okay.’ Then I’m in LA with my dad. It felt like the best trip of my life, and I was fangirling over Sarah Finn and Lewis D’Esposito. I wanted to fully enjoy being in this room, because I didn’t know if it was going to happen again.”
There have been a few bumps in the road along the way, thanks to the pandemic. This put a lot of things on hold as studios around the world had to reassess and readjust their future plans, including the production of Ms. Marvel. However, things ended up working out for the show and Vellani.
“Then the pandemic hit, and they emailed me,” Vellani described. “They were like, ‘Look, you’re really in the running. We just have to find some stuff on our end.’ I was like, ‘I have to figure out college on my side…’ Then, June 2020, [I] sent [my] last self-tape, then we did a screen test on Zoom, and I got cast on the last day of high school.”
The first episode of Ms. Marvel is available to stream now on Disney+.