Iranian Actress Shohreh Aghdashloo

It’s hard not to get political at a time like this, but rather than write an exposé or an angry Facebook rant we went a different way: We decided to let an interview and photo-shoot speak for itself. Enter Shohreh Aghdashloo – the history-making actress who was the first Iranian woman to win an Emmy and receive an Oscar nomination. Suffice to say, we’re glad she was able to leave Iran during the revolution – a choice she described as a tough one in leaving both her beloved family and German Shepherd, Pasha behind – and come to America.

Aghdashloo not only leads the federation in Star Trek Beyond, but she can also be seen playing the most powerful woman on Earth on the futuristic SyFy TV series – The Expanse. Her new movie The Promise had its world premiere at TIFF, and in addition to all this Aghdashloo still makes time to cook Persian favorites for friends and family (a favorite pastime of hers). Woman Crush Wednesday might just be an understatement…but it will have to do. We sat down with Aghdashloo to talk about the Muslim Ban, Iranian Curry, opportunities for women and inner beauty…

From start to finish, what would be your ideal food day?

Breakfast: Orange juice, coffee, brown toast and cream cheese

Lunch:  Brown rice, pan-seared wild mushrooms and giant shrimps

Dinner: Kale salad, sliced chicken breast, and a glass of wine (preferably red, Merlot)

How do you usually start your day? What’s your go-to breakfast?

Coffee and doughnuts

How do you practice beauty from the inside out?

Beauty comes from within. One will not look beautiful if one’s heart is not with humanity, no matter how hard she or he tries to look good. Happiness is the number one key to inner beauty. I don’t believe in dieting unless someone really needs to go on a diet for medical reasons or to regulate their eating habits. Of course, working out helps a lot, too. I love swimming and walking. 

What are your morning and nightly beauty routines?

I use Clarins serum, moisturizer and eye contour balm and Shisiedo neck and eye cream. I use the serum first, then the moisturizer, eye cream, eye contour balm, neck cream and SPF 50 – I have to use it, I live in sunny Los Angeles. I have the same regimen at night, without the sunscreen.

You were the first Iranian woman to win an Emmy and be nominated for an Oscar. How did that feel in the moment?

It felt great, like riding on a flying carpet – but it also brought a lot of responsibility that comes with being a role model.

What changes do you wish would happen in Iranian cinema? What about US cinema?

My dream is for the two of them, the US cinema and the Iranian cinema, to collaborate and make a movie together, which would be tremendously helpful in bringing lots of changes to the existing situation – artistically, politically, socially, and globally.

What advice would you have for young women who aren’t necessarily in an environment where they’re treated as equal and given a fair chance?

Never stop dreaming and know that you are not alone. Educate yourself – even if you have to do it on your own. Never stop learning. Every fundamental change comes from within. Be the advocate that your society lacks.

Freedom, democracy, and equality do not come easy, especially when we are facing tyrannical regimes or governments – but it is possible and has been done before. Look at Malala Yousafzai.

How do feel about the Muslim ban? 

I feel saddened, alarmed and concerned.

How is it personally affecting you? How will it effect the future?

In my boots. On my toes. Ready to go and dedicate myself to the cause. The future is yet to be seen, but it all depends on the steps that the good people of this country are taking to prove what is American and what is not American. More power to them.

What is the most challenging experience you’ve ever faced? How did you overcome it?

Leaving Iran during the revolution. Leaving my beloved family and my beloved dog (German Shepherd) Pasha behind has been the most challenging experience for me in life. But I did overcome it by believing that I would be more useful to my people by helping them from abroad.

Do you have a personal mantra? What is it?

I am happy for I have surrendered.

What are your favorite Iranian dishes to cook? Can you give us a recipe and how to do it?

Iranian Curry

Ingredients:

One small chicken or hen

One medium onion

One pound of mushrooms, cut into thick slices

Salt and pepper

Turmeric

3 or 4 tablespoons of Curry Powder

1/4 cup Half & Half

Directions:

Fry the onions, then add your desired amount of salt, pepper and turmeric.

Add the curry powder when the onion is turning yellow and let it fry with the onion.

Add the whole washed skinless chicken to the pot when the onion turns yellow, then toss the chicken a couple of times to make sure it is thoroughly fried and looks golden.

Add 1 and 1/2 cups of water when the chicken and the onions are fried golden.

Let the chicken cook for 30 minutes.

Fry the cut mushrooms in a separate pan and add them to the chicken. Let it cook for another 30 minutes.

Add 1/4 cup of Half & Half to the pot, 10 minutes before serving.

Are you excited about your new role in Star Trek? Did you watch it as a kid?

I am still extremely excited about it.  My three brothers and I watched the original Star Trek TV series in Iran when we were kids. None of my brothers could have believed that their little sister, a girl from the Middle East, would get to play a commodore on this Giant Classical American science fiction, until they saw the movie.

Who is the one person you’d want to do a scene with, that you’ve yet to work with?

The list is long, and it includes a dozen of young talents including: Hillary Swank, Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner and more, but these amazing actors are on the top of my wish list. Meryl Streep and Al Pacino, too.

What’s the best advice you have ever received? The worst?

Best: Listen thoroughly and think twice before you speak.

Worst: Do not get involved in politics if you want to live a successful life.

Who/What do you think you were in a past life? Why?

I must have been a tree in my past life. For in this life, I want to become a tree when I am dead, if there is such a thing as life after death.

If you could have a dinner party with five people, living or dead, who would you invite? And what would you cook?

I would cook Iranian Curry and my guest list would be Elizabeth Warren, Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, Madeleine Albright, Margaret Thatcher, Indira Gandhi and Benazir Bhutto.

Read our interviews with Kathryn Hahn and Amy Landecker, then check out our list of 100 inspirational women worth celebrating. 

*Shohreh Aghdashloo, photographed in New York, NY by Danielle Kosann