News Ticker

New TV superhero shows Muslim-Americans in positive light

By Drew Farmer –

When DC’s “Legends of Tomorrow” returned for season 3 in October 2017, it debuted a new character on the highly successful television series. Actress Tala Ashe joined the cast as Zari Adrianna Tomaz, a Muslim-American computer hacker.

The CW show returned in early October for its latest season, and Ashe is happy to be a part of a television show that portrays Muslims in a different light.

“I have been part of projects where it is not dealt with sensitively or accurately, and it’s incredibly painful. It’s incredibly painful,” Ashe said while promoting the show.

Ashe, who was born in Iran in 1984 and grew up in Ohio, has had bad experiences in the past, most notably while working on a soap opera.

“It’s still actually painful for me to talk about because it was such a stereotype,” she said. “I try not to berate myself for taking it because I understand the reasons that I did. But I would never, I would never say ‘yes’ to something like that now. … Going through that experience taught me the power of saying ‘no’ and saying like, ‘Actually I’m not OK with that.’ And if that’s all there is out there for me then it’s OK. I’ll go work in a law firm pouring coffee. I’d rather do that than to be part of promoting that stereotype.”

Compared to her past role, Ashe now plays a character that promotes being a Muslim-American rather than stereotypes it. The actress believes more roles can be created in television and films that show Muslims in a non-stereotypical light.

“What is great is an aspect of who she is, as much as she’s an activist and she’s a strong woman and someone who speaks truth to power,” Ashe said about the Zari character. “It’s really important that we have representation in the media and specifically we have Muslim-American representation that isn’t just positive in a sort of rosy, un-nuanced way, but is a real person. And there’s so much of the other right now and there’s so much making Muslims ‘the other’ that I’m excited to play this character in what I hope will be a very nuanced and sensitive, accurate way.”

The current season of DC’s “Legends of Tomorrow” runs until April. So far, season 3 and Zari have received positive reviews.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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