Ms. Marvel: Travina Springer on MCU Embracing Cultural Opportunities

Travina Springer never imagined participating in the cultural zeitgeist of Marvel, much less the opportunity to be a part of the diverse possibilities of Ms. Marvel. In the Disney+ series, the Strange Angel star plays Tyesha Hillman, the wife of Aamir Khan (Saagar Shaikh), who is Kamala's (Iman Vellani) older brother. Kamala, who idolizes Carol Danvers aka Captain Marvel, gains superhero powers of projection with the ability to manifest physical matter of force from light with barriers & platforms to walk on, as well as the ability to extend her arms mystically granting her superhuman strength through her grandmother's mysterious bangle. Springer spoke to Bleeding Cool about her audition, the series' diverse representation, comparisons to her comic counterpart, fan reception, and more.

Ms. Marvel: Travina Springer on MCU Embracing Cultural Opportunities
Travina Springer and Saagar Shaikh in Ms. Marvel. Image courtesy of Disney+ / Marvel Studios

Bleeding Cool: How did you feel when you were cast in 'Ms. Marvel?'

Travina Springer: I was overwhelmed with gratitude. It was really exciting to find out I was cast as Tyesha. I had a gut feeling that it was going to work out after my audition. It felt really good, but I don't usually feel that way. Most actors don't ever say that, because you don't want to jinx anything [laughs]. I felt special, connected, and excited. To be a part of Marvel is one thing and it's huge. Marvel is everywhere. What was overwhelming was the fact that I was going to be a part of this project that is just so special, unique and so groundbreaking. That was the part that just got me really emotional.

BC: How did you describe the vibes on set, was there pressure to provide adequate representation of the cultures depicted?

Springer: It was a combination of things. First, there was so much familiarity with everybody. There was a lot of commonality and connection because the majority of the people on set, on camera & behind are Muslim, South Asian, Arab, or adjacent. That felt very inclusive and safe. So a lot of the things that we were talking about and the characters we were portraying, we were very familiar with. It was just natural, felt like home in a lot of ways, which was really nice. You could say something that Muslims say to each other and it wasn't foreign or awkward. It just felt very natural and it was a really cool vibe on set. Also to see so many women I worked with. I had a woman director and cinematographer as well, and I've never seen that much diversity behind the camera. Regarding the pressure, I think that we had an awareness of how heavy and important this is going to be. The pressure exists and we're going to be the first of many things. I don't want to speak for others, but I'm sure we all felt the gravity of it. We took lots of care while we were creating the project and bringing it to life.

Ms. Marvel: Travina Springer on MCU Embracing Cultural Opportunities
Saagar Shaikh and Travina Springer in Ms. Marvel. Image courtesy of Marvel Studios / Disney+

BC: How do you compare your interpretation of Tyesha to her comic counterpart?

Springer: That's a great question. With most Marvel projects inspired by the comics, I think I was able to take a lot of foundational characteristics of Tyesha and bring her to life. I was allowed to bring myself, my own experiences and interpretation to her, which is really fun. There was a lot of stuff that was on the page, but I had freedom to put my own spin on things. We were able to play a little bit with some of the dialogue in the moments, which is great. Tyesha is such a beautifully-written character in the comic, and I'm looking forward to seeing how she expands in this world. There was a lot of me in her, which is why I connect with her a lot.

BC: Was there anyone on set you hung out with?

Springer: I think most of us would hang out when we were not filming because we were in our bubble. It was the first year of the pandemic, we were still learning a lot, and going back for work felt very intense. We were mostly in our bubble, but hanging out with each other. Saagar Shaikh and I are friends in real life and I've known him for years. We were really excited when we found out that we would be working together on 'Ms. Marvel' and would be playing TV husband and wife. This made it really fun because his real wife was there in town, so we would hang out. It was almost like summer camp, like a fun experience because it was just us. We all hung out and it was a very fun time.

BC: What did you find most difficult?

Springer: Everything is so veiled in secrecy and discreet [working on a Marvel project], sometimes it's hard to know what it's actually about [laughs]. It's also hard to keep that information so you don't necessarily know even what you can say. While filming, I told others 'I guess I'm just vacationing in Atlanta for a little bit.' I had my friend watch my plants and I couldn't tell her why [laughs]. I say that maybe the other thing is that because there's such an attachment to source material with Marvel projects, there might be this extra pressure with expectations of how things should be and what people want as opposed to original projects that people just go and accept what it is.

BC: How has the reception been?

Springer: I am so ecstatic that the reception that I have seen overwhelmingly has been positive, so much love. I've spoken to fans and friends who have said they have never felt so seen watching television and to see something that they connect with and identify with. A Marvel project really gets a lot of people very emotional. People who are used to seeing themselves reflected in media on a regular basis probably don't even understand what this means. The reception has been wonderful and people love the relationship with Tyesha and Aamir, which is really beautiful. We've seen an interracial intercultural couple just being elevated, accepted, enjoyed, and celebrated. That's really important to see. It's a positive. I'm so grateful and touched by that… audiences will continue to be happy with what they see with 'Ms. Marvel' and ask for more.

Ms. Marvel, which also stars Matt Lintz, Zenobia Shroff, Yasmeen Fletcher, Alysia Reiner, and Anjali Bhimani, streams Wednesdays on Disney+.

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About Tom Chang

I'm a follower of pop culture from gaming, comics, sci-fi, fantasy, film, and TV for over 30 years. I grew up reading magazines like Starlog, Mad, and Fangoria. As a writer for over 10 years, Star Wars was the first sci-fi franchise I fell in love with. I'm a nerd-of-all-trades.
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