There is a celebrity and then there is fame from superhero movies. With all the associated media and adoration that a comic book movie starring The Rock implies, Sarah Shahi is prepared to go on a worldwide tour for “Black Adam.” But as she prepares to go, her attention is on herself.
“I just want to be cool to my 13-year-old,” she says, via Zoom, where she’s just home after picking up said teen from football practice. “I’m excited for my son to see his mom on-screen, being a tough badass.”
“Language!” her younger daughter, Violet, interjects indignantly.
For a brief moment, Shahi’s 7-year-old is watching our Zoom conversation, and she isn’t letting her mom use any foul language. The actress enjoys having her children, Violet, Knox, Knox’s twin, and William, Shahi’s oldest son, around as often as she can.
I’m a working parent who is single, she claims. And I believe that setting an example by being a working mom has a lot of beauty. Show children that pursuing their aspirations may be rewarding.
Dwayne Johnson plays Black Adam, an antagonist/anti-hero who appears in the present era after being imprisoned for 5,000 years in the long-awaited DC Comics movie. Shahi portrays Adrianna Tomaz, a rebel in Kahndaq, his invented nation. Shahi claims that the resistance’s leader is also a mother in addition to being a military commander. Therefore, we also display her kinder, more sympathetic side. Not for nothing, she claims, does her persona turn out to be “the Black Adam whisperer.” Nobody else is able to control him the way she can, talk to him, and get him to act in certain ways.
Shahi performed all of her own stunts for the movie, including wire work that brought her to tears on the first day in her trailer. Though it was worthwhile. My children will be able to say, “My mom actually did it!” when they see it when I take them to see it.
What’s more, Shahi — whose parents fled Iran before she was born, just before the revolution of the late 1970s — gets to play a Middle Eastern character, a tricky aspect of her career. “I’ve been waiting for a Middle Eastern moment,” she says. “A lot of times, in my projects, they think I’m either too ethnic to play the white person, or too white to play the ethnic person, so I’m like, ‘Where do you think I fit in, Hollywood?’ It’s really beautiful that this movie is giving a whole bunch of Middle Eastern actors a real chance, and it’s completely set in a Middle Eastern world. They’re not shying away from any of that stuff. I’m pretty proud of that.”
The movie’s timing dovetails with the fierce reckoning in Iran, largely led by women, sparked by the death of teenager Mahsa Amini while in custody of the morality police.
“I wouldn’t be able to lay my head down at night if I didn’t support the courageous women and men fighting for basic human rights in Iran,” she says. “I grew up hearing similar stories. My mother was a part of the rebellion, and she fled because she didn’t want that life for her future children. The only reason I’m here now is because of the strength of my mother and all the others that came before her.”