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Why Suki From Netflix's Avatar: The Last Airbender Looks So Familiar

Netflix's "Avatar: The Last Airbender" offers a new take on the animated Nickelodeon series that many people adore. While the new show has plenty of highlights (as well as some changes that have upset fans), one of the clear standouts of Season 1 is Suki, leader of the Kyoshi Warriors, who's portrayed by Maria Zhang. She was one of the best characters from the animated "Last Airbender," exhibiting strength and honor while showcasing a more vulnerable side thanks to a short romantic subplot with Sokka (Ian Ousley). 

Fans can't get enough of Zhang's performance, with much of the praise coming from X (formerly known as Twitter), where @JLDMistery wrote, "Already loved Suki in the animation, but the casting for the live action was so great!" It certainly appears to be a breakout role for Zhang, who's just starting in the entertainment industry. She only has a few other credits to her name so far, but she's already exhibited an ability to inhabit complex, powerful characters. 

Zhang was cast as Suki in 2021, and in a 2022 interview with Mixed Asian Media, she spoke about how the role had begun impacting her. "I think good art always inspires us to take a deeper look at ourselves and examine our own values," she said. "I've learned a lot from Suki." Judging from the few roles she's had so far, she's off to an exceptional start to a promising career. 

All I Ever Wanted (2022)

Prior to joining the live-action "Avatar: The Last Airbender," Maria Zhang starred in several short films as well as the YouTube show "WorkInProgress: A Comedy Web-Series," the latter of which follows four college-aged women of color navigating the dating world. But the project that was most recently released before "The Last Airbender" premiered on Netflix was a beautiful short film called "All I Ever Wanted," which was released in 2022. The movie is a queer love story about young Christina (Cathy Bui), who loves romantic comedies and wants a story like that for herself, albeit a version that may lie with a girl rather than a boy.

The short won a couple of awards on the festival circuit, including Best Comedy at the 2022 HollyShorts Film Festival. For Zhang, who plays Jennifer in the film, it was an opportunity to be part of a movie that could really stand out. She told Mixed Asian Media, "When I read the breakdown of all Asian names, I was like, 'This is awesome.' And when I read the script I knew this was something special. I had to do it."

Much of Zhang's filmography thus far has centered on bringing greater representation to underseen communities. That trend continues with her role as Suki in "Avatar: The Last Airbender," which has an incredibly diverse cast consisting primarily of Asian actors. She's already gained many more fans through her "The Last Airbender" role, and people want to see more of her, including @KnightGambit who stated on X, "I'mma need Netflix to give Suki her own original sub-plot in S2 that flows seamlessly into finding Appa." Great things are clearly in store for Maria Zhang.