'Legends of Tomorrow': Tala Ashe on the Importance of Zari and Muslim-American Representation

On Legends of Tomorrow, Zari Tomaz may be one of the newest heroes to board the Waverider, but as a hacker from the future, she's an indispensable member of the team. But she's not just a superhero. Zari is a Muslim as well, and that's something that series star Tala Ashe isn't just proud of -- it's something she feels is very important.

During the show's panel at San Diego Comic-Con, a fan asked Ashe about her role as Zari and the importance of playing her as Ashe herself is a Muslim and an immigrant. Ashe revealed that she takes playing Zari seriously, but that there's so much more to the character than just her faith.

"I love her for a lot of reasons, but personally as an actor I take the issue of representation really seriously for myself and I and with the writers and with the showrunners have worked really hard to have this character be, yes, she's the first Muslim-American superhero on television which is dope, but she's also, she's a lot of other things," Ashe said. "She's a hacker, she's a very sarcastic person. It's part of her identity and I think it's played into the show in what I hope is an organic way."

On Legends, Zari was introduced in the third episode of season three when the team encountered her in 2042, a future where an authoritarian A.R.G.U.S. has banned all religion as well as metahuman activity. While the show hasn't yet dug too deeply into Zari's story, it's clear that the future she's from is bleak and that she's experienced serious and painful prejudice for being Muslim. According to Ashe, the show will address Zari's backstory in the upcoming season and will cast a bit of light on the kind of discrimination she's experienced.

"We're going to see some of that, we're going to see some of her backstory actually this year to understand where she comes from and she's experienced prejudice in a very real way and in the future and she kind of sees the worst version of some of the xenophobia that's happening right now in our country and in the world play out in a really terrible way so she kind of has hindsight in a way and she's trying to pass that on to the other Legends and also apply it what's going on," Ashe explained. "Yeah, I'm really proud to play her and represent this character in a way that, you know, it's not always what we see on television."

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The season four premiere of Legends of Tomorrow, which is titled "The Virgin Gary", will debut on Monday, October 22nd, at 9/8c on The CW.