She’s No An­gel

Actress Serinda Swan plays a not- so- in­no­cent su­per­hero in the up­com­ing se­ries, Marvel’s In­hu­mans.


Serinda Swan de­buts as Me­dusa in Marvel’s In­hu­mans


While trans­form­ing into her new role as a Marvel su­per­hero, the Bri­tish Columbia- born star was still play­ing Dwayne John­son's love in­ter­est on HBO's Ballers, and just f in­ished work­ing op­po­site Jes­sica Lange on FX 's new show Feud: Bette and Joan.

She still re­mem­bers get­ting that life- chang­ing call from Jeph Loeb, Marvel head of tele­vi­sion and ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer. “He said , ‘ Serinda, wel­come to Marvel,' and I just started cr ying— I was so ex­cited ,” she re­calls. “I fell to the f loor, I 'm ver y dra­matic.”

“There's some­thing about be­ing in the Marvel world that i s so spe­cial , and it's some­thing I al­ways wanted. I al­ways wanted to play a su­per­hero.”

Add that film­ing was in Hawai‘ i , and it be­came an ex­tra- spe­cial project for Swan, who lived on Kaua‘ i with her fam­ily

dur­ing her early teens, and at­tended Kula High and In­ter­me­di­ate School.

“It was an in­cred­i­ble ex­pe­ri­ence,” she says, not­ing her fam­ily lived on Kaua‘ i on and of f for about seven years. “I got to love the i sland, the spirit, the peo­ple and the cul­ture.

“I 'm re­ally con­nected with it, so it was re­ally im­por­tant for me that when I came here [ to shoot Marvel's In­hu­mans ear­lier this year] that I tried to do ever ything as lo­cal as I pos­si­bly could.”

In­stead of stay­ing at a ho­tel in Waikiki, she rented an apart­ment in Di­a­mond Head, where she could walk to Da Cove Health Bar & Cafe for her fa­vorite acai bowl. She shopped at neigh­bor­hood stores, sup­ported lo­cal brands, and l et out her kama‘aina vibe. De­spite a hec­tic f i lm sched­ule, she made ever y ef fort to make this in­ter view and photo shoot with HI Luxury be­cause con­nect­ing with lo­cal press was im­por­tant to her.

“Hawai‘ i has al­ways been a place that I wanted to come back to,” she says. “When I got to guest star on Hawaii Five- 0 five years ago, I thought I was the luck­i­est per­son in the world. And then when they told me we're shoot­ing in Hawai‘ i [ for Marvel's In hu­mans ], I was like ,‘ Oh my God, this is the best job in the world .'”

Cre­ated by comic book leg­ends Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Marvel's iconic Me­dusa char­ac­ter was in­tro­duced in Fantastic Four in 1965. She be­longs to the Marvel's In­hu­mans, a race of su­per­hu­mans with di­verse pow­ers—Me­dusa' s is her lux­u­ri­ous pre­hen­sile hair that can be used as both shield and weapon. She also is a mem­ber of the royal fam­ily, serv­ing as queen of At­ti­lan , and is the in­ter­preter for the mute Black Bolt, ruler of the In­hu­mans.

“One of the things I love about Me­dusa is how strong she is and be­ing the per­son who speaks for Black Bolt,” notes Swan. “To­gether, they built this re­la­tion­ship and in­cred­i­ble l an­guage, and they strengthen each other.”

“This i s an ab­so­lute dream to play. I'm hav­ing so much fun and I love it. I've al­ways been a fan of comic books and su­per­heroes in gen­eral. When I was younger, I was a to­tal tomboy. As far as I can re­mem­ber, my fa­vorite was Cat­woman. Now, it's Me­dusa be­cause I 'm play­ing her.”

In real life, Swan has some im­pres­sive tricks her­self. She was a gym­nast for about a decade, and can still break out a back f lip or spring. She also loves to surf, although a clause in her con­tract pre­vented her from get­ting in the wa­ter much dur­ing f i lm­ing. And while she can't share too much about the show un­til it airs, she's surely grate­ful for the op­por­tu­nity.

“My mom was an actress, and I did a few small things when I was younger be­cause of her, but I never got back into act­ing un­til nine years ago,” ex­plains Swan, whose pre­vi­ous jobs in­clude work­ing at a restau­rant and cloth­ing store, and as a nanny and jew­elr y de­signer. “It's not that easy to get into, and at a young age, I got a lit­tle scarred by it, so it took me awhile to get the courage to get back into the in­dustr y.”

Then, when she was about 22, she de­cided to go for it, and within the f irst year booked a show in Toronto. Since then, it's been a steady f low of work rang­ing from small guest roles to reg­u­lar

“One of the things I love about Me­dusa is how strong she is and be­ing the per­son who speaks for Black Bolt …” —Swan on her role in Marvel’s In­hu­mans

ap­pear­ances and star­ring cast mem­ber stand­ings. She por­trayed Erica Reed on A& E's Break­out Kings, had a re­cur­ring role on Chicago Fire, and played DEA agent Paige Arkin on Grace­land.

“I just kept go­ing un­til I found a job that they said yes, and once they said yes, I just kept push­ing for more jobs,” says Swan. “This i s what I was work­ing for. Ten years and some­one f in­ally said yes, and f in­ally some­body took a chance on me, and it's Marvel and IMAX and Jeph Loeb.”

“In an in­dustr y of no, I had huge net­works, huge cre­ators, huge celebri­ties all come to­gether and said , ‘ We're go­ing to make this hap­pen for her.' I'm so hum­bled by their gen­eros­ity, and for work­ing so hard to give me this op­por­tu­nity.”

Among those “huge” celebri­ties to have her back was Hawai‘ i's own Dwayne John­son since f i lm­ing for his show, Ballers, over­lapped with film­ing for Marvel's In­hu­mans.

“I told him about be­ing up for the role of Me­dusa and tr ying to f ig­ure it all out, and he was li ke, ‘ Where's the shoot?' I said Hawai‘ i , and he was, li ke, ‘ Oh, you have to get that,'” says Swan. “He's prob­a­bly the big­gest movie star in the world right now and he made me feel in­cluded right away. We have so many things in com­mon— we both have French Bull­dogs and we both have Hawai‘ i con­nec­tions. And we had a blast shoot­ing.”

Marvel's In­hu­mans wrapped f i lm­ing in June, and Swan i s al­ready onto a few other projects, but couldn't break the news or share the ex­cite­ment just yet. Even Marvel's In­hu­mans i s still a “hush­hush” topic, and she was some­what in hid­ing from the pub­lic dur­ing f i lm­ing.

At l east fans f in­ally got to see her on the third sea­son of Ballers, which pre­miered in July, and she also con­tin­ues to be ac­tive with nu­mer­ous char­i­ties. She also co- founded a com­pany called Deed ly, which will soon be launch­ing an ed­u­ca­tional app de­signed to help chil­dren round out their views of the world.

“We started it a year ago, and it's been in­cred­i­ble ,” says Swan .“It's launch­ing in Septem­ber, and it' ll be away to teach kids the im­por­tant is­sues that are hap­pen­ing in the world with­out putting more strain on our school sys­tem.”

Swan also is in­volved in mul­ti­ple aware­ness cam­paigns, in­clud­ing end­ing sex traf­fick­ing. She cy­cled across Cam­bo­dia and went sky­div­ing at 18,000 feet to raise money for char­i­ties in Nepal, In­dia and Cam­bo­dia.

“We've been hit­ting the ground hard try­ing to bring aware­ness on the fact that it's the sec­ond-largest crim­i­nal en­ter­prise in the world and 1.2 mil­lion women and chil­dren are sold into it ever y year,” says Swan. “We have a war on drugs, but there's also a war on the fe­male body that we're not ac­knowl­edg­ing. It's re­ally dif­fi­cult, and it's some­thing I felt— that as a Cana­dian, I won a ge­o­graph­i­cal lot­ter y at birth .”

“I meta girl in Cam­bo­dia and lis­tened to her story and re­al­ized that ev­ery­thing I was born with, that I took as a right, to her


was a priv­i­lege— the right to be ed­u­cated, the right to be safe, the right to say 'no.' A lot has to do with fe­male equal­ity and fe­male rights, but it's not just a fe­male is­sue. Young boys are be­ing traf­ficked as well .”

Swan also isa found­ing am­bas­sador for the in­ter­na­tional non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion, Friends to Mankind, and is in­volved with var­i­ous en­vi­ron­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tions, in­clud­ing an anti- malaria cam­paign and ef forts to ad­dress ex­tinc­tion rates and wa­ter cri­sis. She be­lieves ed­u­ca­tion, es­pe­cially ed­u­cat­ing chil­dren, i s one so­lu­tion to these i ssues.

“Act­ing i s what I love, and I don't want to stop do­ing it, but how do I use it to help other peo­ple?” she ques­tioned. “By us­ing my plat­form, my voice and the light that gets shined on you as a celebrity, and ref l ect that light into the area of the world that i s in dark­ness, that peo­ple don't know about.”

“I want to make a dif fer­ence, and I feel li ke there's re­spon­si­bil­ity that comes with some sort of inf lu­ence you get through this in­dustr y— that it's your re­sponsi- bil­ity to make sure you give back.”

While she may not have the mus­cle strength to save the world, she has the heart— and that's the most im­por­tant power of any su­per­hero. “I think it was in­stilled in me at a young age from my par­ents, and be­ing born in Canada,” says Swan of her de­sire to help oth­ers. “Also, through­out my life I 've seen things that have opened my heart in ways that I can't look the other way.”

When she's not work­ing or sav­ing the world, Swan, who lives in Los An­ge­les, en­joys be­ing with her dog, Bud­dha. “I go hik­ing with my dog and take him on road trips,” she says. “Also, be­ing able to pick up and go, and ex­plore the world is one of my fa­vorite things to do. While I was in Hawai‘ i , I was do­ing a lot of hikes and ex­plor­ing on the is­land.”

She also en­joys do­ing things that are cre­ative, such as paint and tie- dye, and started a shoe line be­cause she couldn't find a san­dal she liked. “I bought ev­ery­thing and sewed it to an ex­ist­ing san­dal, and it kind of went from there,” she ex­plains.

So, is there any­thing that gets on her nerves? Mis­matched socks.

“I don't know why, but if I 'm at an air­port and I know I have mis­matched socks on, I would rather take my socks off than have peo­ple see me with mis­matched socks,” she con­fesses. “I can't han­dle it.”

“That and not hold­ing the door for peo­ple. I re­ally don't get that. I think it's such a lovely way to con­nect with a hu­man and a beau­ti­ful ges­ture of ' I' ll take care of you and you take care of me.'"

“There’s some­thing about be­ing in the Marvel world that is so spe­cial ... I al­ways wanted to play a su­per­hero.”

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