EXCLUSIVE: After landing the highly-coveted male lead in Marvel’s new series Ms. Marvel, Rish Shah has found his next big feature film role as he is starring opposite Maya Hawke and Camilla Mendes in Netflix’s Strangers. Directed by Unpregnant‘s Jennifer Kaitlyn Robinson, the film is A YA modern day take on Strangers On A Train meets Cruel Intentions set in an elite Santa Barbara high school.  Robinson and Celeste Ballard penned the script. Robinson, Anthony Bregman and Peter Cron are producing for Likely Story under their overall deal with Netflix.

The film follows a clandestine meet-cute, Drew (Alpha, it girl) and Eleanor (beta, alt girl), who team up to go after each other’s bullies. Strangers is a subverted Hitchock-ian dark comedy featuring the scariest protagonists of all: teenage girls.

As Shah’s schedule continues to get busier, the British-Indian thesp is hopeful that this is a sign that Hollywood is making strides to diversify their films with more talent in leading roles that look like him.

“It’s definitely exciting, growing up I never would have imagined someone with my background is given these opportunities on a global platform – it’s surreal and humbling,” Shah said in an interview with Deadline. “I’m lucky to work in the industry on the shoulders of so many great actors, such as Riz Ahmed and Irrfan Khan, who have paved the way for me.”

Speaking of Ahmed, Shah could not have been more excited watching him make history as the first Muslim Best Actor nominee at this year’s Oscars for his role in Sound of Metal saying he wasn’t surprised and that “his career path has always inspired me and I was honored to play his younger brother recently in his short film The Long Goodbye.”

While Hollywood has a ways to go in making strides giving more opportunities to Shah and his fellow South Asian actors, he says he is trying to help these strides by having the conversations with people close to him to pick the right roles to chase and to not go after parts that perpetuate stereotypes.

“I’m lucky that most of the roles I go up for are complex, interesting and even often colorblind,” he said. “I do feel the change and I’m looking forward to continue to push the boundaries until this is the new normal.”

As for the biggest part in his young career, Shah is currently filming Marvel and Disney’s Ms. Marvel, the studio’s first Muslim comic character. Shah not only feels blessed to be a part of this important project but hopes it has that cultural impact Black Panther able to achieve.

“The fact that our show represents South Asian culture makes it even more special. Black panther was groundbreaking for so many reasons, and I hope that Ms. Marvel resonates across cultures in the same way.”



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