Geek Exclusive: Actress May Calamawy Got Her Disney+ ‘Moon Knight’ Role Via An Instagram DM

They say when opportunity comes knocking on your door, take the chance. For Egyptian-Palestinian actress May Calamawy, her Golden Ticket came through a direct message on Instagram, from none other than producer/writer Sarah Goher.

Goher had reached out to the Ramy actress to let her know that her husband, Egyptian director Mohamed Diab, would like to work with her and whilst Calamawy was suspicious, maybe even doubtful at first, a simple reply to Goher has now earned the 36-year-old the role of Layla El-Faouly, one of the lead characters in Marvel Studios’ Moon Knight, the latest Disney+ entry in the massively successful Marvel Cinematic Universe.  

“Mohamed Diab’s wife messaged me on Instagram and she’s like ‘My husband’s interested in you for this Marvel project’. I contacted my manager, and I was like, ‘Is this real?’,” shared Calamawy in an exclusive interview with Geek Culture. 

“I don’t even go on Instagram that much. And people say things all the time. I don’t know if I need to believe this. I kind of wish it was true. And then it was true!” 


Calamawy is relatively new to Hollywood, having appeared in a few independent English and Arabic films including Together Together and Djinn. Hulu’s 2019 Ramy, a comedy-drama about a first-generation American Muslim, finally saw the actress in the main role of Dena Hassan, the sister to the titular Ramy Hassan. But never did she think she’d play yet another main role, and for the massive Marvel Studios. When she won the role of El-Faouly, Calamawy was emotional – and like many other Marvel stars, she had been sworn to secrecy, never to talk about the upcoming series until it was announced. 

“I cried! I was like, ‘What?’. I had just finished watching all the movies in order of the story and then I got the audition and booked it. It felt unreal. I’m like, ‘Is this real?’ and you know, you can’t talk about it for so long, I’m like, ‘Is this happening?”.  

One of the benefits of joining Moon Knight, based on the mystical superhero comic book character created in 1975, is that the show comes with a set history and audience, but in Calamawy’s case, she gets a fresh start as Layla El-Faouly is a new character introduced for the six-episode series that star award-winning stars Oscar Isaac and Ethan Hawke. 


She’s a close associate of Marc Spector aka Moon Knight (Isaac), who despite having a close relationship with him, is completely unaware that he has Dissociative Identity Disorder – mainly due to the fact that he’s so damn good at keeping secrets. The two reunite eventually and thus began her journey in learning and understanding Marc and his other personalities. 

“She’s a strong, resilient woman who goes after what she wants. And she’s also vulnerable. I can’t speak to her relationship with [Marc and Steven] but she’s known Marc from her past, and then she suddenly meets Steven and is taken aback because she doesn’t know Steven.” 

The actress remains tight-lipped about revealing more about her character and will likely do so until the series airs on 30 March 2022, but she learns fast and teases that this was the same experience she first had when Marvel was pitching the role to her. 

“You know, they didn’t tell me much about her in the beginning, but they said Egyptian. And that was the keyword. I was like, ‘I’ll do it.’” 

Marvel Studios have slowly begun expanding their cinematic universe to include newer heroes that come from a variety of cultures and backgrounds. From Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther, Simu Liu’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, and the upcoming Pakistani-American Ms Marvel series starring newcomer Iman Vellani, Moon Knight’s hero being the avatar for the Egyptian God Khonshu means viewers can expect a lot of Egyptian iconography and mythology at the heart of the superhero series.

This isn’t the first time the country and its greatest wonder makes an appearance in media – think The Mummy, Gods of Egypt and even the most recent Death on the Nile. Moon Knight presents a unique opportunity to represent Egypt and the Middle East in a fair, more accurate manner. 

This is especially since director Diab is an Egyptian himself. 

“Oh, he’s incredible. He and his wife became instant family to me. He has such a passion for how much he loves Egypt. I don’t know if anyone loves Egypt more than Mohamed. He wanted to portray it in such an authentic way. And for him, he’s like, ‘I want to stop wars and I want to change the world!’ and I’m like, ‘Cool, let’s do it!” laughed Calamawy. 

Whilst the series’ protagonist Marc Spector is a Jewish-American, Calamawy’s El-Faouly is Egyptian and is the first Arab female character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Having a character like El-Faouly is just the first step to what Calamawy hopes will be a big shift in representation for Arab people in Hollywood. 

“I wish I had this growing up. Seeing an Arab woman in a Marvel project on this scale, that would have been amazing. It’s an honour to be able to play [Layla] and I hope that women all over, especially Arab women, can feel like they have a space and something at this scale that gives them the freedom to share their voice,” said the actress. 

“And also, for people around the world to see the Middle East in a different way. I understand that there’s like, generally one portrayal of the Middle East, it’s changing, but there is a stereotype and I really think that we’re ready to bring in that shift.” 

Catch May Calamawy as Layla El-Faouly in the new Disney+ series, Marvel Studios Moon Knight when it releases on 30 March 2022.