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Where EAST meets the Northwest

SMASHING STEREOTYPES. Tala Ashe, a cast member in the CW series "DCís Legends of Tomorrow," poses for a portrait during the 2017 Television Critics Association summer press tour at the Beverly Hilton, in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

From The Asian Reporter, V27, #20 (October 16, 2017), pages 7 & 9.

"Legends" star shatters stereotypes with Muslim superhero

By Nicole Evatt

The Associated Press

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. ó Tala Ashe is thrilled to debut her new character, a Muslim- American superhero, joining season three of "DCís Legends of Tomorrow." Itís a particularly poignant moment for the Iran-born, Ohio-reared 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 itís incredibly painful. Itís incredibly painful," said Ashe in an interview while promoting The CW series during the Television Critics Association summer meeting.

One of Asheís 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.

"Itís still actually painful for me to talk about, because I, it was such a stereotype," she recalled. "I try not to berate myself for taking it because I understand the reasons I did. But I would never, I would never say Ďyesí to something like that now. ... Going through that experience taught me the power of saying Ďnoí and saying like, ĎActually Iím not OK with that.í And if thatís all there is out there for me, then itís OK. Iíll go work in a law firm pouring coffee. Iíd rather do that than to be part of promoting that stereotype."

Actress Ashe was thrilled to debut her new character, a Muslim-American superhero, on "DCís Legends of Tomorrow." The third season of the series premiered October 10 on The CW.

Her experience playing Zari, a computer-hacking superhero in "Legends" could not be more different.

"What is great is (her ethnicity) is an aspect of who she is, as much as sheís an activist and sheís a strong woman and someone who speaks truth to power," Ashe said. "Itís really important we have representation in the media and specifically we have Muslim-American representation that isnít just positive in a sort of rosy, un-nuanced way, but is a real person. And thereís so much of the other right now and thereís so much making Muslims Ďthe otherí that Iím excited to play this character in what I hope will be a very nuanced and sensitive, accurate way."

Ashe was particularly impressed when showrunners brought in a Muslim-American writer to help craft her role and hopes that kind of inclusivity will spread throughout Hollywood.

"I do think there are more stories being told. I think more stories can be championed both in theater and in television and certainly in movies. I think we have a long way to go in terms of representation in movies. But I think TV is doing kind of the best job in terms of realizing that we need to reflect our world and that it matters," she said.

Ashe aims to be a positive role model for young fans and perhaps break down a few stereotypes along the way.

Sheís hopeful she "can make someone feel a little less alone or ó hereís the big hope ó if it can change a mind," she said.

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