Sophia Nomvete is changing the game in the "Lord of the Rings" universe.
In "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power," which is set to premiere on Sept. 2 on Prime Video, Nomvete plays Princess Disa, the first female and Black dwarf who has ever been seen in the fictional world that author J.R.R. Tolkien created.
"She's pretty badass and she literally uses her voice to move mountains," Nomvete told TODAY of her boisterous character. "She is for the people. She is fiercely loyal. She's in a position of power at this point as is the whole of Khazad-dûm ... and she is just an absolute explosion of everything that we can celebrate about dwarfs and of course, female dwarfs."
Playing an exceptional character who's hailed for her hard "working-class culture" made Nomvete tap into her culture as a South African and Iranian woman to play Disa.
I am flying the flag in order for generations ahead of me to be able to see themselves in a franchise of this scale.
"There is a power and a heart to both of those cultures," she said. "They are so rich in love and passion and oppression and pain and having to fight every single step of the way. So I was really able to draw from my immediate and ancestral experiences and fire up this moment because it's iconic."
"I am flying the flag in order for generations ahead of me to be able to see themselves in a franchise of this scale," she continued.
Princess Disa is Prince Durin IV's wife and their love story is told in the Second Age of Middle-Earth. During this time, Khazad-dûm, the ancient realm of the dwarfs, is thriving and is not the crumbled underground city that was once portrayed in the epic "Lord of the Rings” films.
As fans recall, Khazad-dûm was in ruins after the dwarfs dug so deep in their mines that they unearthed an unnamed terror, known as Durin’s Bane, that spread havoc and pandemonium throughout the city.
However, in "The Rings of Power," Khazad-dûm is still intact, as the show is set thousands of years before Frodo Baggins even comes across the One Ring that forever changes the course of his life. And in the Second Age, Durin finds the love of his life.
While having dinner with Disa and his longtime friend Elrond, Durin recalls how he met Disa and he says it took him "at least two weeks" to start courting her.
"It was five," Princess Disa quickly corrects him.
“You’re lying. She’s lying," Durin tells Elrond. "She may play coy now, but she was a moon-eyed girl in love from the moment we met.”
Although Durin can be quite stubborn, Nomvete acknowledges that her character is a good match for the Prince because “she knows his heart” better than anyone else and can keep him grounded.
“What’s so great about Durin and Disa is that they are in a loving relationship and marriage,” Nomvete said. “At the core is unity equality, respect and a lot of love.”
Playing Princess Disa has made Nomvete a "new" fan of Tolkien's work, even though her former roommate did try to put her onto the "Lord of the Rings" movies in college.
"My experience with 'Lord of the Rings' was that my university flatmate at the time was a huge fan, so every Sunday, she would she would put it on and make us all watch it. We would get pizza," Nomvete recalled.
But since she had "one eye off the ball" and was more focused on boys and ballet, Nomvete didn't find the films to be all that interesting.
"I wasn't paying as much attention and I'll never forget when I got this role... she Facebooked me saying, 'You're welcome,'" Nomvete said with a laugh.