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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‘Americanish’ Shines a Heartwarming Light on its Community

Iman Zahawry provides a refreshing and heartwarming romantic comedy centered in a community that is so often ignored in media. What might feel like a run of the mill indie film straight from the early 2010s, the films sets itself apart and elevates itself with its likable characters and message of trying to find one’s independence and what it means to be Americanish.

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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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‘American Eid’ Director Aqsa Altaf on the Importance of Muslim Stories and Finding Her Voice

Disney’s Launchpad: Shorts Incubator — a filmmaking program dedicated to amplifying underrepresented voices — celebrates six directors in its inaugural year to create a story centered on the theme of ‘Discover.’

One of the voices came from Los Angeles-based filmmaker Aqsa Altaf who wanted to capture what it meant to be a Muslin American. Growing up in Kuwait by Pakistani and Sri Lankan parents in a Muslim home, Altaf realized there were not many stories surrounding Muslim stories, especially positive ones that celebrates the culture. Instead, Altaf only saw negative stereotypes of Muslims in the media. She wanted to change all of that and became fascinated with telling diverse stories that reflected on subject matters that are universal.

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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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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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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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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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Southern Fried Asian: Qasim Rashid

A few weeks ago, Keith had the pleasure of welcoming to Southern Fried Asian human rights lawyer, policy advocate, and candidate for State Senate in the 28th district of Virginia, Qasim Rashid. With less than two weeks to go until voters go to the polls in Virginia, Keith and Qasim talk about why he’s running and why it’s important to get involved in politics at every level of society.

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Aquaman: A Mixed Kid’s Journey

by Maha Chehlaoui

I went to Aquaman for two reasons: First, the ticket was free. Second, this is basically underwater Magic Mike, right? I came for the pecs, I stayed for the pecs. But also for the analysis of what it is to be of two cultures. I mean races. I mean… worlds?

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Race, Politics, and the Third Self: Why We Need Iron Fist and Ms. Marvel to be Asian American

It’s been quite a while since I’ve contributed anything, but with the news that Iron Fist has a showrunner and also with Donald Trump wasting our time and being overtly bigoted, I thought it was an opportunity to look at the importance of introducing more POC characters in our fiction, and the importance of identity, on a wide range of levels.

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Sana Amanat’s TED Talk: Myths, Misfits, & Masks

As you know, we’re pretty big fans of Kamala Khan’s turn as Ms. Marvel around here. And last week, the original inspiration for the character — Marvel editor Sana Amanat — became the inspiration for even more people when she addressed a TEDxTeen 2014 in New York.

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Welcome to the Marvel Universe, Kamala Khan

MsMarvel_Metamorphosis_HiWildflower The 16-year-old superhero has hit #1 on the digital comics charts, proving that readers around the globe want to see comic book heroes reflect the world we live in. We begin with Kamala’s origin story, Metamorphosis, the first of five tales of her superhero beginnings.

(BTW — hard copies are dope, but digital joints are $2.99! And the artwork by Adrian Alphona and coloring by Ian Herring are top notch, and it’s nice to see Marvel has gone all out to honor writer G. Willow Wilson’s vision for the series.)

The opening scene is one that’s close to my heart. We’re at a deli in Jersey City, where Kamala and her friend, the proud, beautiful Nakia, stop by their friend Bruno’s shift to smell the forbidden BLTs just within Kamala’s reach. I remember staring at pepperoni pizzas as a kid and being jealous as hell of my pork eater friends. And, any vegetarian will tell you — often the thing that breaks ’em down is bacon.

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Why We Need a Muslim-American Superhero

Originally posted at Elle.com

I admit: I’m a lightweight comic book geek. I was always down for X-Men, Batman, and Wonder Woman. I just watched The Wolverine and Man of Steel* on an ultra-long international flight. My biggest gripe (don’t worry it wasn’t Henry Cavill)? Every story revolves around white men saving the world. So, when I heard that Marvel Comics’ new series, Ms. Marvel, features a 16-year-old Pakistani-American Muslim superhero, I was elated.

In the series, set to debut February 2014, Kamala Khan, a 16-year-old from Jersey discovers her latent superpowers — she shape-shifts — setting in motion her meteoric transformation into Ms. Marvel.

At the heart of it though, she’s just a regular teenager, right?

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NOCs of the Roundtable: The New Ms. Marvel

Yesterday, Marvel Comics made a splash by announcing the launch of Ms. Marvel #1, written by G. Willow Wilson with art by Adrian Alphona (best known as the co-creator of Marvel’s Runaways). And while launching another Ms. Marvel book isn’t usually big news, the reason for all the attention this time centers around the teenaged girl assuming the mantle — Kamala Khan. In order to process this announcement from Marvel, we convened a “roundtable” of fellow Nerds of Color to talk about their thoughts on this new series from Marvel.

Borne from the childhood experiences of Marvel editor Sana Amanat — who will also edit the new series — Ms. Marvel will tell the story of Kamala, a Pakistani American teen from Jersey City who idolizes Carol Danvers (the original Ms. Marvel who now goes by Captain Marvel). Kamala takes on Danvers’ old codename after she discovers her own shape-shifting super powers. The new Ms. Marvel is part of Marvel’s ongoing quest to spotlight more women and characters of color in their books. After all, Ms. Marvel is coming out on the heels of Mighty Avengers and the all-female mutant X-Men. Overall, I think it’s a net positive to have a high-profile book be fronted with a teenaged girl of color who is also Muslim. Whether or not the narratives inside the pages fall victim to old stereotypes remains to be seen, but I think Marvel deserves credit for making the continued attempts to diversify their superhero roster.

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