Joy Drop: Canadian Iman Vellani's Ms. Marvel role is truly superheroic

CBC Sports Senior Contributor Shireen Ahmed's weekly roundup of the things that struck her from the week that was.

CBC Sports' senior contributor Shireen Ahmed on the week's happier moments

This image released by Disney+ shows Iman Vellani in a scene from the series "Ms Marvel." (Disney+ via AP)

Hello! As the weekend approaches, I have some delightful tidbits of happiness to share with you. 

First of all, Markham, Ont.'s Iman Vellani made her starring debut as Jersey City high school Kamala Khan in Ms. Marvel, streaming on Disney+. In a March 2022 entry of this joyful online notebook, I wrote about the importance of Ms. Marvel and I am delighted to say the first episode did not disappoint. 

I grew up in a time when I rarely saw myself or people like me represented on television. To see a young woman depicted as a superhero is unreal. But when I learned about how Vellani appreciated the series production process and her own character, it made it so much more authentic. She knows that playing the first Muslim superhero is a big deal

WATCH: Iman Vellani explains the role of fan culture in the Ms. Marvel series:

Iman Vellani explains the role of fan culture in the Ms. Marvel series

1 year ago
Duration 0:58
Ahead of the Ms. Marvel series release on Disney+, Canadian actor Iman Vellani shares her experience on set and how fan culture helped to elevate her character's story.

Seeing words used in the everyday vernacular of Muslim families including "Bismillah" (In the name of God) or "MashaAllah" (What God has willed) is also important. It connects people using language and cultural expressions that are meaningful and beautiful to share. 

Vellani marvelled (pun intended) about this in a recent interview with The Juggernaut and the ways in which the filmmaking process felt sincere to her is really heartwarming. It is also a very cute interview. Vellani is a young actor whose work will affect different generations and as we watch her story unfold, will help share more culture with a wider audience. 

Speaking of superheroes, Mississauga legend and Marvel Cinematic Universe's Simu Liu is teaming up with Jeremy Lin and the Canadian Chinese Youth Athletic Association to host a charity basketball game, with proceeds going to AAPI (Asian American Pacific Islander) youths in the community. The event, set to be held on July 9 in Toronto, will be a celebration of successful Asian Americans and Canadians from all industries and walks of life. It makes me so happy to see collaborations for important causes reflected in the wondrous communities around us. 

And as this week's entry is dedicated to superheroes, it is fitting that I add in the wonderful news that Canadian women's hockey phenom Marie-Philip Poulin has been hired by the Montreal Canadiens as a player development consultant. In one of the wisest moves imaginable, the Habs brought Captain Clutch on board. Although her role is part-time because she continues to play professionally, this is a "get" for the NHL team that could use an infusion of success to inspire not just the players but the entire organization. 

Lastly, I offer a tune from one of my fave artists when I was a teenager: Nazia Hassan. Hassan's music on cassettes was a staple in my life and Boom! Boom! is a great song and I love this remix by the brilliant Pakistan–Canadian artist Meesha Shafi. Enjoy!


Shireen Ahmed

Senior Contributor

Shireen Ahmed is a multi-platform sports journalist, a TEDx speaker, mentor, and an award-winning sports activist who focuses on the intersections of racism and misogyny in sports. She is an industry expert on Muslim women in sports, and her academic research and contributions have been widely published. She is co-creator and co-host of the “Burn It All Down” feminist sports podcast team. In addition to being a seasoned investigative reporter, her commentary is featured by media outlets in Canada, the USA, Europe and Australia. She holds an MA in Media Production from Toronto Metropolitan University where she now teaches Sports Journalism and Sports Media. You can find Shireen tweeting or drinking coffee, or tweeting about drinking coffee. She lives with her four children and her cat.

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