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Salma Hayek becomes first Arab actress to have major role in Marvel film

Salma Hayek, a Lebanese-Mexican actress, has become the first Arab actress with a main role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe [Gage Skidmore/Flickr]
Salma Hayek, a Lebanese-Mexican actress, has become the first Arab actress with a main role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe [Gage Skidmore/Flickr]

Salma Hayek has become the first Arab actress with a main role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), when the MCU’s Phase 4 was revealed this weekend at San Diego Comic Con. She is set to star as Ajak in “The Eternals”, which will be released on 6 November 2020.

The film will be directed by Chloe Zhao and stars actress Angelina Jolie, stand-up comedian and actor Kumail Nanjiani and “Bodyguard” actor Richard Madden alongside Hayek.

Hayek, a Lebanese-Mexican actress, is best known for her work as Mexican painter Frida Kahlo in 2002 film “Frida”, as well as her more recent films such as “Grown Ups” and “Grown Ups 2”.

Hayek will be playing the part of Ajak in the new Marvel film, who is the leader of the Eternals; a male character in the comics. She announced her upcoming role on Instagram, saying: “I’m so excited to join the Marvel family as Ajak, the mother of all Eternals. It used to be the father of all Eternals, but girls… this is OUR time!!!!!”

“The Eternals” is based off the comic of the same name and tells the story of a species of humanity (named the Eternals) who were genetically engineered by the Celestials (who created the Infinity Stones), trying to protect the human race.

In addition to “The Eternals”, Marvel revealed many other new projects, including Oscar-winning Mahershala Ali as the vampire hunter Blade and Natalie Portman as the female Thor. Shang-Chi, the first Asian American super hero film was also unveiled, starring Canadian actor Simu Liu and “Crazy Rich Asians” actress Awkwafina.

Hayek has on numerous occasions spoken out about her Lebanese roots; “I feel very proud to have Lebanese blood,” she said in 2016. She went on to criticise a law which bans women from passing on their nationality to their children.

“I hope that the extraordinary Lebanese women and mothers have the possibility to pass their nationality to their children,” Hayek said, “we are as Lebanese as the men are.”

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