Skip to content

Actor Aliza Vellani: from 'Little Mosque on the Prairie' to Netflix hit 'Sweet Tooth'

North Vancouver-based actor Aliza Vellani’s six-year role on a CBC series cascaded into a successful career
Rani Singh, played by actor Aliza Vellani, shows her husband that her pinky finger isn't vibrating, a sign that a fictional virus called 'the sick' has taken hold. 'Sweet Tooth' has been confirmed for a third season. | Courtesy of Netflix

What does humanity look like through the eyes of a child?

On Sweet Tooth, a Netflix series adaptation of a graphic novel by Canadian comic book mastermind Jeff Lemire, main character Gus navigates an apocalyptic landscape through a lens of innocence, optimism and a love of chocolate bars.

North Vancouver-based actor Aliza Vellani, who plays main cast member Rani Singh on the show, got her start on Little Mosque on the Prairie, as Layla Siddiqui, a teenage Muslim girl navigating her own human challenges by balancing her desires to respect her heritage and be a normal Canadian youth.

Being in that role for six years cascaded into an acting career that’s seen her on popular TV shows including The X-Files, Riverdale and on the animated series Marvel Super Hero Adventures, as the voice of Ms. Marvel.

When reached for an interview, Vellani was in Regina, filming season two of Zarqa, a new comedy series on CBC Gem.

On Sweet Tooth, Vellani said she fell in love with Rani, a woman hiding her infection with “the sick” – a fictional virus that decimated the world’s human population – while her doctor husband does whatever he can to keep her healthy.

“I related to that as a newly married woman, and in a world with the pandemic,” she said. “There were a lot of parallels in the beginning.”

The show’s pilot was filmed June-July of 2019, but rest of Season 1 was delayed when COVID-19 hit in March 2020. Fortunately for the cast, filming resumed in New Zealand that August.

“It was surreal in March to walk through the grocery stores, or see people in masks and really feel like I was reliving something that we had acted in June of 2019,” Vellani said. “We filmed it. And I’m seeing it in real life. How is this even possible? And that’s it’s really all of us having that reaction.”

Many scenes filmed for the pilot were cut out of the final version because there wasn’t much of a need to show what global virus-related panic looks like, she added. “That was very, very surreal for me.”

In May, Netflix announced that Sweet Tooth will be getting a third and final season, but a release date hasn’t yet been announced.

From Sweet Tooth main cast to cycling podcast

After filming season two, she returned home to North Vancouver, where she’s lived with her cycling fanatic, real-life husband Jamshed Colah for the past seven years.

“It’s hard to imagine myself living anywhere else. It is the most magical place to be,” she said. “My husband and I really built a community on the North Shore which has been such a joy and such a place of gratitude for me.”

Vellani has embraced a local rite of passage by joining The Last Drop cycling club, and has branched out from her acting career into the world of podcasting. On Super Domestique, she takes on the role of producer while her husband Colah hosts.

Taking on the role of podcast producer has been an amazing experience, she said.

“It allowed us the opportunity to meet so many incredible leaders in cycling in B.C. in particular, and so many people from the North Shore, surprisingly enough,” Vellani said.

“And it was such a beautiful place as a producer to find stories in a world that wasn’t quite my hobby, it was my partner’s hobby. So that’s been really beautiful.”

Watch the Super Domestique podcast and Sweet Tooth trailer on YouTube

push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks