Abubakr Ali Cast as Titular Anti-Hero for Netflix’s ‘Grendel’

Middle East and North African (MENA) and Muslim people have had scant options when it comes to the superhero genre or comic book adaptations generally. Arab and Persian people in particular have most often been vilified in popular media through the decades. But this is thankfully starting to change, such as with the Tarazi siblings on DC’s Legends of Tomorrow for Persian people, but perhaps now for Arab people with the news from Deadline that Netflix is developing a Grendel series, based on Matt Wagner’s comic series of the same name, and has cast The CW’s Katy Keene star and Abubakr Ali in the starring role!

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Is ‘Dune’ Truly a White-Savior Story?

Not according to Denis Villeneuve.

Recently, members of the press, including The Nerds of Color, were given the privilege of speaking directly with the visionary director behind Dune. During the conversation, Villeneuve was asked about Dune being an example of the White Savior trope, among many other questions, and he wanted to make it specifically clear that while many have taken the surface-level concept of the story and expressed condemnations for it based on that, interpreting the story as such would actually be missing the true point of it.

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The Middle Geeks Episode 29: ‘Lift Like a Girl’ and an MCU Assessment

Ferdosa joins us to discuss the Netflix documentary Lift Like a Girl! How well did this documentary do at showcasing the weightlifting journey of Asmaa and her team, and the depiction of everyday Egyptians? What could it have done better? We also discuss the exciting news that Black Palestinian writer and actor Yassir Lester will be the head writer of the upcoming MCU series Armor Wars, and speculate on what that might mean for the MCU’s penchant for military propaganda. Enjoy listening!

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The VO Actors of Global Majority You Need to Know: Ryan Colt Levy

Over the past three years, I’ve encountered some truly remarkable voiceover actors from the PGM (People Of Global Majority) community, so remarkable that I thought it would be a worthwhile endeavor to dedicate an article about themselves, their accomplishments, and where you can find them and do so every week. When will this end? Most likely never so as I cackle at the infinite posts this may generate, I am so very happy to tell you all that my spotlight for this week is on Ryan Colt Levy! (Banner design once again done by the incredible VO artist/graphic designer Belsheber Rusape Jr.)

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The Middle Geeks Episode 28: Palestine in Pop Culture and ‘Loki’

Palestinian historian and scholar N.A. Mansour joins us to discuss the situation in Palestine, where the situation stands now, how pop culture plays into the dehumanization of Palestinians, and what you can do to help and learn more about Palestinian people and their struggles. We also discuss all of Loki Season 1! What did we like about the series, and what themes resonated with us? Where could it have done better in areas? We also give our recommendations, and much more!

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The Middle Geeks: Shayan Sobhian of ‘DC’s Legends of Tomorrow’

Shayan Sobhian, aka Behrad Tarazi of Legends of Tomorrow, joins Swara to discuss his upcoming episode, “This is Gus!” They talk about how Shayan relates to his character, the importance and impact of representation, and how Behrad may be developing this season. Enjoy listening! 

This is a podcast form of the interview published here for The Nerds of Color.

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NOC Interview: Shayan Sobhian of ‘DC’s Legends of Tomorrow’

Since coming onto the Legends team in a revamped timeline in the Season 4 finale, Behrad Tarazi, younger brother of Zari Tarazi, has been a fixture on Legends of Tomorrow. But it was only this season that his actor, the mult-talented Shayan Sobhian, was promoted to a series regular. He’s the chillest member of the Waverider crew, always looking to defuse tension and make sure that he and his friends have a good time.

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The Middle Geeks Interview: Amin El Gamal of ‘Breaking Fast’

For Pride Month, we are so excited to have on Amin El Gamal, who plays Sam on the amazing queer Ramadan rom-com Breaking Fast, which is now on Hulu! We dig into what drew Amin to acting, the experience of filming Breaking Fast and working with Mike Mosallam, their thoughts on the current landscape of MENA and queer stories in film and, what he’d love to see more of in the industry, and much more!

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The Middle Geeks Episode 27: ‘We Are Lady Parts’ Review

We are SO excited to discuss Nida Manzoor’s We Are Lady Parts, a British series featuring a punk rock band of all Muslim women of color, including MENA women, premiering today on Peacock TV! What did we love particularly about this series, and how well does it handle representation? We also discuss the news of the additional Sandman for Netflix, including the Lebanese Razane Jammal, American Eid debuting on Disney+, and much more!

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The Middle Geeks Episode 26: ‘The Present’ in Palestine

We discuss the most recent IDF and Israeli government brutalization and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in Gaza and East Jerusalem and discuss what the world and the US need to do to help those affected and end the occupation. We discuss what the daily reality is like for Palestinians in the West Bank through Farah Nabulsi’s brilliant short film, The Present, which you can watch on Netflix. Please do what you can to help Palestinians in need.

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The Middle Geeks: Tala Ashe of ‘DC’s Legends of Tomorrow’

Tala Ashe, who plays our favorite TV superhero Zari Tarazi, joins Swara for a discussion of the next Legends of Tomorrow episode, “The Ex-Factor!” They talk about the importance of Iranian, MENA, and Muslim representation, where Zari’s journey goes this season, and the experience of working on a show as exciting as Legends. Enjoy! 

This is a podcast form of the interview published here for The Nerds of Color.

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NOC Interview: Tala Ashe of ‘DC’s Legends of Tomorrow’

Since debuting in Season 3 of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, Zari Tarazi (Tala Ashe) has become a beloved fixture in the CW’s zaniest (but still very heartfelt) Arrowverse show. Besides the importance of her being the first major Muslim and Iranian-American superhero on network tv, she’s one of the most dynamic and compelling members of the Legends. Things have changed tremendously for Zari over the past few years, as her relationships with her teammates develops and changes and her brother Behrad (Shayan Sobhian) has become a member of the Legends. Now, in Episode 3 of Season 6, she’s faced with more personal challenges as it’s up to her to save the day in a reality tv show competition. We at the Nerds of Color had the opportunity to interview Tala Ashe about Zari’s story this episode, and where her journey in Season 6 will be going.

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The Middle Geeks Interview: Reem Faruqi and Fahmida Azim of ‘Amira’s Picture Day’

In the second of our interview series, author Reem Faruqi and artist Fahmida Azim join us to discuss their new book, Amira’s Picture Day, out now! We discuss the impetus for this delightful children’s book that takes place on the Muslim holiday Eid-Al-Fitr, celebrating the end of Ramadan, and what else inspired them in the creation of this wonderful story, from the beautiful art to the deeply embedded cultural elements Enjoy listening and buy your copy of Amira’s Picture Day today!

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The Middle Geeks Episode 25: The Falcon, The Winter Soldier, and… Chad

This month, we’re reviewing not one, but TWO series, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier on Disney+, and Nasim Pedrad’s Chad on TBS! What did we think of the overall series and finale of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier? How well did it handle the sociopolitical and geopolitical themes it tried to tackle? How did Chad do a good job at presenting a normal Iranian American family, and what did we make of the cringe humor style? We also discuss some VERY exciting castings of MENA actors for the Black Adam film, give our recommendations, and much more!

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Co-showrunner Phil Klemmer Discusses New Season of ‘DC’s Legends of Tomorrow’

DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, the wonderfully wacky and zany sibling of the Arrowverse, is coming back for its sixth season on May 2. The season five finale left fans on a cliffhanger with Sara’s abrupt abduction by aliens after the team drunkly celebrated their victory over the Fates in 1970s London. Even besides the capture of their leader, the Legends have many other team dynamics going on, and Nerds of Color was able to speak via phone call with co-showrunner and Executive Producer Phil Klemmer on what fans can expect for our ragtag group this upcoming season.

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NOC Review: ‘Chad’ is Good, but Revels in Cringe

Being a Middle Eastern kid in an American high school can be an awkward experience. You may struggle to fit in and have an unclear sense of your identity, making friends and relationships as a result. With the new show Chad on TBS, in which she plays the titular 14-year old character, Nasim Pedrad seeks to encompass that experience through reveling in the awkwardness that being an insecure MENA teenager can often entail. And it works for the most part, though the humor sometimes falls flat, especially when it leans too much into the awkwardness.

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The Middle Geeks Episode 23: ‘I Still Hide to Smoke’ and a Plethora of MENA News

We’re joined by Mae’s sister Sonia to discuss the inaugural film of Algerian director Rayhana Obermeyer, “I Still Hide to Smoke.” How well does this film convey the experiences of living as a woman in Algeria in the mid-1990s? How are the themes explored applicable to women’s issues worldwide? How amazing is Hiam Abbas in the lead role (answer: incredibly amazing as she is in everything.) We also have a lot of MENA news to discuss, including the news that our fave Marwan Kenzari will be starring in the DCEU’s Black Adam! We also discuss Mauritanian-American actor Mamoudou Athie’s new film project, the announced tv adaptation of Hafsah-Faizal’s “We Hunt the Flame,” which takes place in a fantasy Arabia, the upcoming return of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, the Writers Guild of America forming a Middle Eastern Writers Committee, and the exciting news about the establishment of Avatar Studios, which is expanding the animated universe of Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra on Nickelodeon and Paramount+!

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The Middle Geeks Episode 22: ‘Breaking Fast’ Review

We are joined by our friend Tariq Raouf to discuss the upcoming film Breaking Fast, which features a gay Arab-American Muslim as its protagonist! We discuss what we enjoyed about the film, what director and writer Mike Mosallam was trying to say with this delightful rom-com, how well it does with representation for Arabs, Muslims, and Ramadan, and where it could have been better. Before that, in our MENA news segment, we have some GREAT news to discuss with Ramy’s May Calamawy being base in Marvel’s Moon Knight! And another of our faves, Rami Malek, has been cast in a lead role in David O’Rusell’s upcoming film! Enjoy listening!

Spoilers for Breaking Fast begin around 26:06

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The Middle Geeks Episode 21: ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ and its MENA Issues

We are joined by the wonderful Hanna Flint to discuss Wonder Woman 1984 in this special bonus episode! We discuss the various ups and downs of the film, how well we thought the actors did with the script and story they had, and whether this movie did Diana Prince/Wonder Woman justice. We also discuss the many racist and Orientalist aspects of its depiction of Egypt and Egyptian people, and how detrimental it is for MENA representation. There’s a LOT to discuss, and we go through it all. Enjoy listening!

Spoilers for Wonder Woman 1984 begin around 11:26.

TW for discussion of rape and sexual assault 11:44 -12:57

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Moon Knight, Ms. Marvel, and Mosul

The Middle Geeks Episode 20: Moon Knight, Ms. Marvel, and Mosul

We’re back with a LOT to discuss. Joining us is a prolific cosplayer, streamer, and friend, Jasmin! We discuss Jasmin’s cosplaying and how the cosplay community has been doing in quarantine. We also discuss the announcement of a queer Ramadan rom-com coming out next month, highlights of the MCU announcements from last week, and how MENA people are WINNING as directors for Ms. Marvel and Moon Knight, why we’re so excited for these series, and our thoughts on the castings (and on the ones that are controversial), and discuss Netflix’s Mosul as our movie of the month. Enjoy!

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The Middle Geeks Episode 19: ‘Paranormal’ Activity in Egypt (on Netflix)

This month we’re joined by filmmaker Shahab Zargari to discuss Netflix’s new supernatural series Paranormal, a supernatural drama set in Egypt, with a story actually told by Egyptians! We’re excited to dive into this overall excellent show. We also interview Shahab on his filmmaking career and what drives his art, discuss the roller coaster of recent Arrowverse news and what it says about DCTV moving forward, and give our recommendations. Also, we have a very special announcement!

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