This is the second in a series of four interviews with cast members from the new Bravo show Shahs of Sunset. The first one, with Mike Shouhed can be seen here.
I do wonder where the interviews with the other women of the show were? What about Asa and GG? I guess this means I’ll have to interview them myself. 🙂 Edited: And I did! See my interview with GG HERE and my interview with Asa HERE!
Four of the cast members work in real estate. Does this create a competitive dynamic?
Definitely. For Reza and I, being that we are the two residential real estate agents [working at the same office], there’s definitely an ambitious pressure that we like to measure up our production and success. We [have] adopted a mentality that you are who you surround yourself with. You want to be selective about making sure those are positive, productive, ambitious people. The other three cast mates, we stay on our tippy toes, we stay on point, and we like to impress ourselves, fulfill ourselves, and succeed for us and for our families.
You and Reza briefly attended Beverly High together. Were you friends then?
Reza and Sammy are the two people that I’ve known the longest. I actually didn’t grow up in the Beverly Hills school system. I made a transition from the East Coast to Beverly. It was a little bumpy because I went to Beverly, hated it, then moved back to a small town [back East]. I thought it was too small and had outgrown it. Then I went back to Beverly. Once I spent two years really getting settled in, then I felt like I had made friends with all the Persians. I never had any Persian friends until I moved to L.A.
I met Reza at a Persian party in Beverly Hills. He was probably drawn to me as I was to him because our personalities are really similar. We just bonded right away. We both had the same car, we both liked to do the same things. Sammy we met because during college my group of girlfriends and I would walk [past] a store [he owned] called Hideout on Melrose Avenue. He also was in a condo right behind my, so our places were practically attached.
What was it like coming to Beverly Hills?
It was the biggest culture shock ever. I think nothing in my life has been hard to adjust to after making the adjustment from being a big fish in a small pond and then going to a place that was a really big school. It was hard to break into the social scene because most people had known each other so long, they didn’t need new friends. I did. It definitely caused me a lot of social grief until I really made friends and had the time to adjust.
This show will introduce Persians to some Americans. Do you feel pressured to represent Persians in any particular way?
I know it’s going to be impossible to please everyone, and after everyone sees how authentic, hardworking all of us are, then I think it’s going to be really hard to find fault in who we are. I think we’re going to be a really fun group because we’re so honest. I think we’re really funny. We’re not just people who wake up in the morning and waste time. We set out to do really extraordinary things, and then we like to celebrate and have fun. I think that’s ultimately one of the best ways I could have imagined my life to be. And I think Americans [will] be fascinated with our culture. Americans that I’ve met have always felt that we have a warmth in our Persian culture that they really haven’t seen anywhere else. I think it’s easy to become obsessed with a culture that celebrates life, family and food.
As a Persian woman, I think the biggest pressure in my life comes from myself because I really want to do everything. I’m a modern person who wants to have a successful career, but I also have strong ties to my need to come home and cook, be nurturing, and be the head of the household in the maternal way. I don’t want to give up any of the things that I think embody a Persian woman and a modern Iranian American that wants to be self-made.
Your bio says you’re struggling to find out who you are. Do you think the show is going to help you with that?
The show is definitely helping me take on issues that I would probably get away with not having to take on. I wasn’t really following the conformist, conventional life to be married by 21 and have kids by the honeymoon and then sort of hang it up. That’s really what people do in our community. I felt like we had so many other choices to make and then the years go by and all of a sudden I realize, wow, I still want to keep doing this. The show—at least because we’re trying to tell a real story about who we are—I think that inadvertently or inevitably forces us to answer questions about ourselves.
Shahs of Sunset premiers Sunday, March 11 on Bravo.