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‘Moon Knight’ May Calamawy Struggles with Incurable Disease — She Can Lose Her Hair at Any Time

Edduin Carvajal
Apr 26, 2022
03:15 P.M.
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"Moon Knight" episode five will premiere on Disney+ on April 27, 2022, with May Calamawy returning as Layla El-Faouly, a character she loved playing for her many facets.


Bahraini actress May Calamawy shot to stardom after playing Dena Hassan in "Ramy" but achieved mainstream fame for her outstanding portrayal of Layla El-Faouly on Marvel's "Moon Knight."

Calamawy has a special relationship with her character. The story pulled Layla into such a complex situation that it demanded plenty of abilities from the actress' skill set.

May Calamawy on March 22, 2022, in Los Angeles, California. | Source: Getty Images


Layla is undeniably strong and defends what she believes, but she is also vulnerable and scared. Calamawy added that the comic-book character allowed her to play a woman's "full gamut." 

Finding Layla's voice was not easy, though. Calamawy explained that if a woman fights, she should look a certain way. However, she wanted to find the perfect balance between strong, vulnerable, intelligent, and assertive.

May Calamawy on March 17, 2022, in London, England. | Source: Getty Images


Calamawy gave plenty of input to her character because she wanted her to feel authentic to the circumstances. She didn't want to pull inspiration from Western women but the Middle East. The actress explained

"I specifically wanted to do that with women from the Middle East because the way we've been raised and our mannerisms and our conditioning is so different."

May Calamawy's Layla also has a particular fighting style because she learned it on the streets, so the actress and stunt team ensured it didn't look too clean or choreographed. Instead, Layla "is kind of just reacting." 


Marvel fans love Calamawy and her "Moon Knight" character – the Marvel Cinematic Universe's first Arab leading lady – for all these reasons. However, Calamawy's road to success has not been smooth.

Calamawy pointed out that alopecia was a self-perpetuating condition.

She opened up about her struggles with alopecia areata in 2020. Although it is an incurable condition, mild cases can result in sporadic episodes of baldness that may come and go over months or years.


Calamawy received the diagnosis at 22 when she was caring for her mother, who had stage 4 lung cancer. The actress worried about it for what felt like an eternity.

She was afraid people would learn about it. Depending on the day, she couldn't hide the bald spots or deal with her thinning hair.


It was so mentally and emotionally demanding (mainly because today's society determines women's value based on appearances) that she went through the five stages of grief.

Calamawy pointed out that alopecia was a self-perpetuating condition as you get stressed when you watch chunks of hair falling out, and stress aggravates hair loss. The seemingly eternal cycle significantly affects a person's confidence and mental health.


When May Calamawy's mom passed away, her hair stopped falling out. However, she started noticing new bald spots in the summer of 2019. Instead of worrying too much about it, she jumped straight to acceptance.

Sharing her ordeal also helped her understand she must not live to meet others' expectations. Instead, it taught her to live and set expectations for herself. Keep it up, queen!