Ashe shat­ters stereo­types with Mus­lim su­per­hero

New Haven Register (New Haven, CT) - - KICKOFF -

BEV­ERLY HILLS, Calif. — Tala Ashe is thrilled to de­but her new char­ac­ter, a Mus­lim-Amer­i­can su­per­hero join­ing sea­son three of “DC’s Le­gends of To­mor­row.” It’s a par­tic­u­larly poignant mo­ment for the Ira­nian-born, Ohiore­ared ac­tress who de­scribed the hard­ship of por­tray­ing stereo­typ­i­cal char­ac­ters in the past.

“I have been part of projects where it is not dealt with sen­si­tively or ac­cu­rately and it’s in­cred­i­bly painful. It’s in­cred­i­bly painful,” said Ashe in an in­ter­view while pro­mot­ing The CW se­ries dur­ing the Tele­vi­sion Crit­ics As­so­ci­a­tion sum­mer meet­ing.

One of Ashe’s first breaks was on a soap opera. She took the role to pay the bills, but said she would never agree to the part now.

“It’s still ac­tu­ally painful for me to talk about be­cause I, it was such a stereo­type,” she re­called. “Go­ing through that ex­pe­ri­ence taught me the power of say­ing ‘no’ and say­ing like, ‘Ac­tu­ally I’m not OK with that.’”

Her ex­pe­ri­ence play­ing Zari, a com­puter-hack­ing su­per­hero in “Le­gends,” which re­turned Tues­day, could not be more dif­fer­ent.

“What is great is (her eth­nic­ity) 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. “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.”

Ashe

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