In January, photos from the filming of Spider-Man: Far From Home appeared to show a Muslim woman in a hijab on the set, and people started to wonder who she could be. The woman in the photos is Zoha Rahman, a law graduate from Pakistan.
She plays a student in Peter Parker’s class in the film. Rahman’s appearance in Far From Home is the first time a hijabi actor has been credited as a main cast member in a Marvel movie.
BuzzFeed News spoke to Rahman about acting, adjusting the hijab to be more trendy, and her experience on the Far From Home set.
This interview contains one Avengers: Endgame spoiler, for those who have still not watched it.
What was it like going from your educational background into acting?
Zoha Rahman: It was a slow transition for me because I was still at uni. I was still studying law, and that’s how I got into acting. So it was still part time, and when I started my master’s, I decided to do it full time. I decided to take a big leap of faith and do acting, and now I’m still doing it. I will do it as long as I can because it’s truly what I enjoy doing the most — I’m happiest when I’m in front of a camera or with a script to learn.
There were a lot of people talking about you online. Did you see any of the responses?
ZR: I was told by one of the people on set to go take a look at Twitter, because I don’t really use Twitter. I have an account, but I don’t go on it. I was unsure what I was looking for. So I just typed in “Spiderman hijabi”, I think, and I saw all of the comments [and] loads and loads of pictures. I think there was a massive surge when Tom [Holland] put me on his story as a joke because he was filming downstairs and we were trying to distract him from the window, so he put up a video of us.
What were some of your favourites?
ZR: I think my favourite one was I will build Jon Watts a shrine. That was hilarious; I loved that one. There were loads which were really heartfelt. I got lots of messages on Instagram from people [who] said that they are so proud to see a hijabi in the movie, that they wear the hijab, their mother wears the hijab, and they’re really looking forward to seeing the film in cinema.
How did the role actually come about?
ZR: It came about like any other role. Casting directors asked me to audition. They liked my audition. I actually didn’t know that I was auditioning for Spider-Man until I was in front of the camera at the audition and I had to sign an NDA and I had five minutes to learn the script and perform it in front of the camera. That’s when I was like, Don’t panic, this is fine. You can do this; it’s just like any other role.
And then afterwards, did you go back and look at it?
ZR: A lot of things made sense because what I know from Far From Home and what happened in Endgame, I’m like, “Oh, that makes sense now; I know that’s what happens,” but…you did feel like you were a bit in the dark. They [were] very confidential and were super, super strict. They just say, “Keep this month and this month free and we’ll just tell you,” and it’s always like…so I was flying with them into — I think it was Prague — and they were like, “We can’t tell you; we can’t tell anyone.” But it’s me flying; I need to pack! And they were like, “We’ll let you know.” They eventually did let us know.
Spider-Man: Far From Home is out in cinemas worldwide now.
Ikran is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Ikran Dahir at [email protected].
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