May 24, 2023
Kayvon Zand is a nightlife personality and musician living in New York City, and goes by the pronouns he or they. I’ve been a fan for years, and love their extravagant and very extra style. In the past year, Kayvon has been turning their attention to Iranians in Iran, and holding live discussions with them about a variety of topics, most notably how life is like for members of the LGBTQ+ community in Iran. I sit in on them every once in a while, and the discussions are often quite fascinating. Since the beginning of the zan zendegee azadi movement also, Kayvon has been really vocal in connecting this movement with the cause of queer rights in Iran, and showing how they are inextricably linked. We talked about his relationship to Iranian culture, the language, but also about the history of the LGBTQ+ community in Iran and how things have changed and how they haven’t.
May 10, 2023
During the pandemic, article after article started coming out about Ari Rastegar, a half Iranian real estate developer in town, and so called 'Oracle of Austin.' A lot of what he said in his interviews struck me as particularly ‘Iranian,’ so I was really curious to have a conversation with him to see if being Iranian had any explicit effect on the way he lives and runs his business.
August 24, 2022
The Real Tara joon is a social media content creator, which is not our general interviewee target. But, she has amassed a massive following on Tiktok, with almost 1 million followers, and even though she just started on Instagram, she has over 200 thousand followers there as well. Her videos really resonate with people from all over the world, but here’s the interesting thing- she’s Iranian, with an accent, and is a proud Muslim that wears hijab.
August 17, 2022
Bahador Alast is a mohandes, or engineer, by day, but he has over 278 thousand subscribers on Youtube following a niche that he’s been able to fulfill and thrive in so well- comparing languages to one another. His videos usually consist of two people from different cultural backgrounds with different native languages comparing certain words in their language with him moderating. They end up discovering similarities between seemingly disparate cultures that they were not even aware of, and often end up really bonding and having a wonderful time. The videos are so fun to watch, and take you on a journey into what unites us all even if it’s not obvious on the surface. I did a poll asking who I should interview for this series, and Bahador was the most requested guest! I learned so much about curiosity, languages, and being open minded from this conversation. Listen below:
July 13, 2022
Zahra Tabatabai is the founder and sole woman behind the Brooklyn based beer company Back Home Beer. You might have seen her instagram or Twitter profile by now- she boasts three different flavors of beer, named Sumac Gose, Persian Blue Lager, and New Day IPA. Although it was released less than a year ago in October 2021, her beers have had quite an impact and presence in the Iranian community- but despite the success of the social media platforms of Back Home Beer, Zahra is pretty private, so she doesn’t show up herself very often on her feeds. I was so curious to get to know more about her, and was so delighted by her charming personality. I’m sure you’ll enjoy getting to know her as much as I did. Listen to the interview below:
June 08, 2022
Dr. Shieva Ghofrany is an OBGYN better known as Big Love Fierce Juju on instagram, where she posts daily videos about topics like pregnancy, female hormones, stds, really all that good stuff that doesn’t often gets talked about openly. She’s recently the co creator of Tribe Called V, an online program made to ‘increase our knowledge to decrease our anxiety’ about pregnancy and childbirth.
June 01, 2022
Payam Banifaz is an actor and comedian based in LA, and he’s been in a ton of tv shows and movies you’ve probably seen- Shameless, Silicon Valley, Veep, and most recently Everything Everywhere at Once. But many of you might know him best for his amazing videos depicting growing up in an Iranian American family with a very Iranian father. He started making these videos in April 2020, and they immediately gained traction and have become such an endearing and poignant depiction of what it’s like to grow up in an immigrant Iranian household.
May 25, 2022
Melody Moezzi is most recently author of the book The Rumi Prescription, in which she talks about how the poetry of Rumi became a lifeline for her, helping her to gain wisdom and insight in the face of a creative and spiritual roadblock with the help of her father, a lifelong fan of Rumi’s poetry. We covered so much in our Growing Up Irooni interview, from the controversy of Coleman Barks and why Melody is actually a big fan of his work, to learning Persian poetry in its original language, to becoming an artist in a culture that isn’t always the most hospitable to being an artist as a profession, to discussing mental health in a culture that isn’t always the most hospital to talking about mental health, and so much more.
May 11, 2022
Omid Roustaei is known by his online name the Caspian Chef, under which he publishes a popular blog and has an active instagram presence- I've been using his recipes to cook amazing food for a couple of years now, and have always been fascinated by his stories and his voice on his recipes. Also, his methods of cooking are very relatable to me- we talk about why during the interview.