Category Archives: Uncategorized

“Shohreh Aghdashloo On Breaking Stereotypes For Middle Eastern Actors: “We Are Now The Newcomers”

“Despite the rhetoric coming out of this year’s political campaigns, Middle Eastern actors are breaking through the stereotypes they have long experienced and are being cast in more substantial roles. Perhaps no one has endured/experienced this more over the years than Shohreh Aghdashloo, who has seen great actors who just happen to be Middle Eastern break out of the “terrorist” roles that they had long only been offered to find real work in primetime and features.

Before being nominated for an Oscar in for 2003 for her brilliant turn in House Of Sand And Fog, she too was offered only terrorist roles. On the eve of the Persian holiday Norooz (New Year), Deadline interviewed the Iranian-born Aghdashloo about what she has seen happen over the past 25 years and how it has changed now that a real call for diversity has taken hold in Hollywood.

Before the audition for her career-changing role in House Of Sand And Fog, she said was offered parts as “a terrorist on a plane, a terrorist on the Earth.” All of them were one-dimensional roles, she said. Hollywood has evolved, but it took years.

Twenty-five years ago it was a different mind-set, and she brought up two experiences to illustrate what she meant. Years ago, a casting agent in Los Angeles (since retired) told her that she ran to a type and she was very limited in the roles she would be able to get; English is Aghdashloo’s second language. In response, she said, “I may be limited in your world, but not in my world.” She kept going to auditions, refusing to give up.

Finally, she was sent to an audition for a popular TV series that called for a Middle Eastern woman. “I was asked to meet with the casting director and when I walked in, I heard the casting director say, ‘No, we are looking for a downtrodden Middle Eastern woman, you’re too beautiful, go home.’ ” So she did, and decided to put to practice what she had told the casting director — see no limits. In other words, she believed she could, so she did…”


“‘Ms. Marvel’ Wins Dwayne McDuffie Award For Diversity in Comics”

Ms. Marvel has won the second annual Dwayne McDuffie Award For Diversity In Comics at a ceremony held this weekend at Long Beach Comic Expo. Aside from honoring Ms. Marvel and other diverse works being published today, the event celebrated the life and career of the late McDuffie, with friends and collaborators in attendance to share stories and lessons from the legendary creator.

The event was hosted by McDuffie’s long-time collaborator Khary Payton, who shared stories of his experiences working with his friend throughout the night. Before the winner was revealed, G. Willow Wilson spoke in a video message to thank the panel for Ms. Marvel’s nomination, and told a story about working with McDuffie and a disagreement they had over where to take DC’s Vixen, who they were both writing separately at the time.

Payton told the story of how McDuffie found his way to comic books, and eventually to the foundation of Milestone Media in 1993. Listing McDuffie’s extensive body of work in comics alone, Payton aptly summed up the spirit of the awards by saying, “We can all use a little bit more perspective from Dwayne McDuffie.”

Marc Bernardin was the keynote speaker of the event, and spoke about comics’ long march to true representation, noting that while he still doesn’t see many faces like his own on the comic shelves, the industry is improving thanks to comics like those nominated for the award. Writer and nominee Brandon Easton, publisher Maytal Gilboa, and last year’s winnerNilah Magruder were also in attendance, and spoke about McDuffie and the importance of diversity of comics and animation.

When Ms. Marvel was announced as the winner, G. Willow Wilson accepted on behalf of the entire Ms. Marvel creative team via a second video message, pre-recorded in case she won. Wilson pleaded with someone to let her know via social media that they had actually won the award, and thanked Ms. Marvel’s fans for keeping the book alive when no-one thought it would make it past issue seven…”

“Zack Snyder Explains Doomsday, Darkseid & Wonder Woman’s Age in ‘Batman v Superman”

“It was incredibly organic how Wonder Woman came into the story. The whole concept came of, ‘Let’s not save anything. Let’s try it all.’ Then Wonder Woman’s entrance made us realize we were much closer to the Justice League than we thought. We realized we were one movie away.”

The magazine also spoke with Gal Gadot herself, who revealed that she actually stopped being a superhero several years ago, before unknown events caused her to don the iconic costume once again. It isn’t known how long she stopped being a superhero for, but it’s possible that the stand alone Wonder Woman movie may explain this, since it is set decades before Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Here’s what she had to say about her iconic character, and how her heroic alter-ego is different from Diana Prince:

“Because she’s seen it all, she has seen what humans can do, so it was very hard for her to come back and fight. They have the same attitude. Although when she is Diana she tries to blend in, she is not too outgoing. I don’t want people to think she is perfect. She can be naughty.”

Gal Gadot is currently filming her stand alone Wonder Woman movie in London, with a supporting cast that includes Chris Pine as her love interest Steve Trevor and Connie Nielsen as her mother Hippolyta, plus Ewen Bremner, Robin Wright, David Thewlis, Danny Huston, Elena Anaya, Lucy Davis and Saïd Taghmaoui in unspecified roles.

We know that the story is partially set during World War I, which executive producer Deborah Snyder confirmed, while revealing this stand alone movie offers an origin story. Here’s what she had to say below:

“Her sexuality is part of her power, but she is also a feminist icon. Gender has been a hot topic, so it is very timely to bring her back. The way we have approached it, especially in the stand alone movie, that is definitely there. Looking back and doing an origin story – and it is a period piece – see the role of women through history. There is a great source of humour in that now. It is so unbelievable you can’t even fathom it.

“You are still making a statement, but having some fun with it…”

“Ta-Nehisi Coates to Write Black Panther Comic for Marvel”

“Ta-Nehisi Coates can be identified in many ways: as a national correspondent for The Atlantic, as an author and, as of this month, as a nominee for the National Book Award’s nonfiction prize. But Mr. Coates also has a not-so-secret identity, as evidenced by some of his Atlantic blog posts and his Twitter feed: Marvel Comics superfan.

So it seems only natural that Marvel has asked Mr. Coates to take on a new Black Panther series set to begin next spring. Writing for that comics publisher is a childhood dream that, despite the seeming incongruity, came about thanks to his day job. “The Atlantic is a pretty diverse place in terms of interest, but there are no comics nerds,” besides himself, Mr. Coates said in an interview.

His passions intersected in May, during the magazine’s New York Ideas seminar, when he interviewed Sana Amanat, a Marvel editor, about diversity and inclusion in comic books. Ms. Amanat ledthe creation of the new Ms. Marvel, a teenage Muslim girl living in Jersey City, based on some of her own childhood experiences.

“It was a fruitful discussion,” he recalled.

After that event, Marvel reached out, paired Mr. Coates with an editor, and discussions about the comic began. The renewed focus on Black Panther is no surprise. Created in 1966, he is the first black superhero and hails from Wakanda, a fictional African country.

“He has the baddest costume in comics and is a dude who is smarter and better than everyone,” said Axel Alonso, the editor in chief of Marvel. The character not only adds to the diversity of Marvel’s comics; he will do it for their films too: Black Panther is set to make his big-screen debut next year in “Captain America: Civil War,” followed by a solo feature in 2018…”

“‘Loving’ Starts Production And Rounds Out Cast”

“Principal photography has begun in Virginia on Big Beach and Raindog Film’s historical drama Loving, and the full cast has been announced. The film follows the story of Richard and Mildred Loving, an interracial couple from Virginia who married in 1958 when interracial relationships were illegal. The pair were arrested, jailed, and then forced to move from their home state, but then waged a long legal battle that ultimately saw the Supreme Court declare such laws unconstitutional in the landmark Loving v. Virgina decision of 1967.

Joining the production are Nick Kroll as Bernie Cohen, Jon Bass as Phil Hirschkop, Marton Csokas as Sheriff Brooks, and Bill Camp as Frank Beazley. In addition, Michael Shannon will play Grey Villet, the LIFE Magazine photographer who shot the now-iconic images of the Lovings in 1965. Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga star as Richard and Mildred Loving. Inspired by the documentary The Loving Story, Loving is written and directed by Jeff Nichols…”

“Miles Morales will be the Marvel Universe’s main Spider-Man this fall”

“Big news, True Believers. The New York Daily News reports that, in the aftermath of Marvel’s summer blockbuster series Secret Wars, Miles Morales will take center stage as the face of the company’s relaunched Spider-Man title. The new series will be led by writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Sara Pichelli, who created the character in 2011, and will effectively replace the Spider-Man titles that were recently cancelled in the run-up to the event.

The decision to bring Miles to the fore reportedly comes as a response to calls to bring Miles to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While Peter Parker, the original Spider-Man, will still be behind the mask for the upcoming Spider-Manreboot, Marvel is taking the opportunity to make Morales that much more important to the iconic superhero’s mythos, especially as it continues to strive for diversity.

“Our message has to be it’s not Spider-Man with an asterisk, it’s the real Spider-Man for kids of color, for adults of color and everybody else,” Bendis told the paper…’