June 21, 2023
I am thrilled to announce the newest episode of our podcast, Growing Up Irooni. As many of you know, my goal with these podcasts is to explore a myriad of experiences, narratives, and perspectives within the Iranian community. This week, we have an exceptional guest whose work has profoundly moved readers across the globe: Marjan Kamali, the award-winning author of "The Stationery Shop."
June 08, 2023
Delighted to introduce the next episode of our podcast where I had the privilege to engage in an energizing conversation with Arian Moayed - an Emmy award-nominated actor, passionate thespian, and charismatic influencer of the Iranian diaspora. Arian has been enchanting audiences in shows such as Succession, Love Life, Inventing Anna, and the recent Ms. Marvel series. His inspiring journey, spanning over two decades, has seen him assume diverse roles across platforms.
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.
April 24, 2023
Nixta Taqueria is an award-winning taqueria in Austin co-owned by today's Growing Up Irooni guest Sara Mardanbigi. She owns it together with her husband Edgar Rico, whom she recently took on a month long trip to Iran. We talked about her upbringing in Arkansas, what led her to create such a unique business, and about her recent trip to Iran, amidst the women, life, freedom movement. Related Links:
April 11, 2023
I’m so excited to share with you today my interview with Firoozeh Dumas, author of Funny in Farsi. Funny in Farsi came out when I was in college, and it’s almost hard to remember what a huge huge deal it was at the time. Really, before that, we had zero mainstream representation of Iranians. The one thing we had that we could all point to was not without my daughter, and that was a horrifying depiction of what Iran and Iranians were. But then Firoozeh came out with her book, which is a delightful, funny, heartwarming memoir of what it’s like to grow up with an Iranian background in the USA. She touches on what it was like during the hostage crisis, and when Iranians were constantly negatively stereotyped in the media. But she also looked at the really lovely positive things that came from being an immigrant in this country. Iranians are often not allowed the levity of talking about their experiences in a way that say Greek people are in a movie like my big fat greek wedding. That movie was allowed to be funny and light and silly- and in a similar way, this book was the same, and really humanized Iranian Americans both for a western audience and for Iranians.It’s now been 20 years since the book came out, and so much has changed since then. It was such a delight and joy to be able to talk to Firoozeh about the context in which she wrote the book, and how things are different now. And what being Iranian meant to her then, what it means now.
January 24, 2023
This interview with Moj is the first I've done for the Growing Up Irooni series since the death of Mahsa Amini on September 16th. So much has changed since then for Iran and especially for the Iranian Diaspora. As one of the cofounders of Iranian Diaspora Collective, I couldn't think of a better person to talk through these changes than Moj Mahdara. They are a venture capitalist and very well known in that world, but before the events that took place in September, they admittedly weren't too involved in or interested in the Iranian diaspora community. But the events stirred a worldwide movement and feeling of connection within the diaspora community, and we talked through that together!
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: