Updated August 20, 2020 - 8:46 am
Actress Sandra Saad never expected to be a superhero. But come Sept. 4, that’s exactly what she’ll be in Marvel’s Avengers. Saad voices Kamala Khan, also known as Ms. Marvel, in the anticipated game and plays a critical role in the narrative.
“My whole life, I’ve been wanting to be on a project like this,” Saad said. “I never thought I’d be a lead and a main protagonist amongst heroes. There’s a very strong parallel between Kamala and myself. She’s a newbie and this is my first time walking onto a motion-capture stage amongst superheroes of video games like Troy Baker and Nolan North.”
While playing a superhero may have come as a shock, acting has been a lifelong passion for Saad.
“I used to watch ‘Full House’ a lot when I was 3,” Saad said. “I’m like, ‘I want to do that.’ She’s a baby and she’s making people laugh. As soon as I understood what that was, my mom explained to me that they are called actors. I put on my own little performances in the house like any other young ham would.”
As Saad got older, she took every opportunity to learn, taking theater, film and singing classes. In recent years, she’s landed roles in several projects, including Rage 2, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and Fallout 76. But her work in the Avengers may be her most high-profile role yet.
“When I first auditioned, I had no idea what it was for,” Saad said. “I didn’t know it was a Marvel project. I didn’t know it was a video game. I didn’t know it was Kamala Khan. Came to my surprise when I did land the role, I was blown away. I never imagined I could be playing a superhero. Even now, I’m still trying to snap myself out of it and thinking that it isn’t possible.”
In the comics, Khan is a daughter of Pakistani immigrants to America. Saad, who is a second-generation immigrant, recognizes the importance of having diversity in the superhero genre.
“I never grew up with a hero that I could fully relate to,” Saad said. “I didn’t have someone that looked like me to look up to. The people I looked up to, it felt like it could only go so far and I’m not able to relate anymore or empathize anymore. It’s hard, because you feel like it’s not for you. The more I read about Kamala, the more I fell in love with her. She’s quite special.”
She spent time reading about her character and discerning the essence of her personality.
“She’s excitable and young and spunky and she loves the Avengers more than anything,” Saad said. “I can relate to that. Who doesn’t have heroes? We’re carrying over that twinkle in her eye that you see in every comic.”
In the game, Kamala is star-struck to meet her heroes. For Saad, working with some of the biggest names in video games offered a similar experience, especially since it was her first time in a motion-capture suit.
“I show up and I’m like, ‘What is this?’ ” Saad said. “There was a lot of learning there, but I soaked everything up pretty quickly. I really learned from the best. I had Troy Baker and Nolan North and literally the best team.”
As Marvel’s Avengers nears its release date, Saad is excited for gamers to get their hands on the game and to maybe let a new generation of fans know that heroes can come in many different looks.
“It’s amazing,” Saad said. “At New York Comic Con last year, I had a couple of people tell me how much it means to them. I understand because I feel the same way. If I wasn’t playing Kamala Khan, I’d be right there, too. You don’t know how much you can resonate with a character until it happens.”