When my little brother found out I was going to be interviewing Tehran SoParvaz for S&F, he immediately freaked out on the phone and texted me a picture of Tehran to have him sign it (because you can autograph picture texts?). He said, “Omg Farrah, Tehran is SO COOL and his Farsi is even better than yours.”
And for once, my brother was right, not only is Tehran intelligent, witty, and straight-up hilarious, he was personable. I’m pretty much jealous of his amazing Farsi skills. Talking to him felt like I was catching up with an old friend. That’s just how you have to be when you’re a personality like Tehran- you have to get people to like you right off the bat and I’m certain that Tehran has no problem doing that. I’ll be honest, it’s hard to be an Iranian these days, and Tehran’s pride for his Iranian and his black heritage is so clearly evident in the way he carries himself and in what he does for a living – it’s inspiring. We could all learn a thing or two — like Tehran says, we should all have pride coming out of our ass.
So a big thank you to Tehran for being a total bad-ass and for taking the time to talk to us. And because I was too shy to say anything in Farsi on the phone, “Tehran jooooon, kheyli bahali – key miay khastegari?”
S&F LOVES TEHRAN SOPARVAZ.
– Tell me about yourself…
I was born and raised in D.C. I love D.C.- it’s my home city. I went to college and graduate school in D.C. I still call D.C. my home even though I’m on the road more than I am in D.C. – but that’s why you’ll always catch me with a D.C. hat- D.C. REPRESENT.
My dad is Persian and my mom is black. My D.C. heritage goes all the way back – my parents are D.C. native. My mom is a lawyer over at HUD who fights against gentrification in the district. I did my undergrad and graduate school at George Mason University and I went to Georgetown Law for law school. I didn’t take the BAR after law school – I have a Master’s in Economics and did a double major in my undergrad in International Politics and Communications.
– What do you do? How did you get started?
I host shows – I have a show on BET, I hosted Lil Wayne’s tour that finished about six months ago. I also hosted a tour for Rick Ross. I host shows, comedians and I’m just a entertainer in general – a personality – that’s what I prefer.
I used to throw a lot of events- parties and concerts. It was just a natural onset of being in that environment.
– What was a pivotal moment for you when you were hosting?
My favorite moment: You know those big Persian concerts that happen in Vegas every Christmas? I hosted the Vegas concert. The first year I ever did it was four years ago – they put me on stage and I hosted the entire two days. It was a stellar job, an amazing concert – the energy, the vibe – I’d never been to the Vegas concert before and it was amazing. I don’t really have a natural fear of speaking in front of people. Everyone thought I had prepared what I was going to say while I was hosting, but when I went on stage, I just spoke whatever came to my mind.
It felt like a movie.
But I do have a pre-show tradition. I listen to “Use Somebody” by Kings of Leon. It’s such a cinematic song. I like to listen to 2 CHAINZ or RICK ROSS. I don’t get pre-stage jitters.
If you have a fear, you have to overcome it because it makes you more brave and creative. What you have to say is more inspiring if you can speak publicly.
I was on the debate team in high school. I also played basketball. I thought I was a big shot little star. But none of my basketball teammates knew that I did forensics or the debate team. No one on my basketball team knew because you can’t be “cool” and do all these things. No one in my popular life knew I was really into school.
I’m a big academic at heart.
I read tons of books. I watch a lot of movies. I go to the movies by myself — yes I’ve seen Magic Mike- it’s not that bad, it’s good, I would give it a B or a B-. When you put all those good looking guys on the screen, it’s going to be decent and the script isn’t horrible. I know all these girls were looking at me in the theaters like oh my godddd. But if I got my candy and my drink then I can go to the movies all day. I’ll watch everything.
I go to the movies once at least every two weeks and watch every movie that’s coming out.
– Do you have a favorite movie?
I don’t have a favorite genre or a single favorite movie. You can’t do that. The Princess Bride is such a great movie, but you can’t say it’s a “good movie.” I like different movies from different genres so it depends.
– How much of an influence did the Iranian culture have on you growing up?
It had a huge influence. A lot of people think that “Tehran” is a nickname that I made up, but it’s not. My parents named me Tehran. My dad is very Persian in nature – he taught me to speak, read, and write.
I do what I do because growing up, a lot of people were ashamed to talk in Farsi.
You should be proud of the fact that you speak Farsi – it’s a big deal.
I do my shows in Farsi even though I have an accent too. I’m just like hey if you’re embarrassed of your accent, look at me speaking Farsi on TV with my accent.
My dad immersed me in the culture and it’s really easy for me to naturally not be into the Iranian culture. I look Black and no one would know otherwise. A lot of half Persians and half Blacks do that because Iranians are not the most open-minded people and it’s not an easy community to be a part of.
My dad always impressed on me how important it is to be Iranian and it’s something I’ve always treasured – and I’ll hold on to it and teach my kids. No matter where in the world my kids are, they will be Iranian too.
– Was your dad strict?
Yeah, he’s a Persian dad. There’s no other way I can get around that. Even if I had basketball practice and I came home at six, he would be like, “In mogheye shab koja boodi?” It’s still light out… relax. Even if I went out at 2pm, he would still say “In mogheh koja miri?” (Translation: Where are you going at this time?)
– How did you learn Farsi?
My dad speaks Farsi. When I’m in the house, we only speak Farsi – there’s nothing else. It’s really quick to learn when the only way you can communicate with your primary provider is through another language. My mom doesn’t speak Farsi – which is probably why my parents got along so well. But she’s very supportive, she’s the one who named me “Tehran.” My dad thought the name was silly and she named me that because she wanted me to have a reminder of where my heritage is from.
My mom is really into Black pride so I just had pride coming out the ass.
– How do other Iranians react when they find out you’re half Iranian?
The fact that Iranians are so surprised that I am half Iranian – to the point that it’s hard for them to believe it – it just shows how much of a closed community we are.
Their first reaction is, “Speak Farsi.” It’s like damn. That’s why I do what I do because I’ve really heard it all. Iranians are masters at talking trash – especially when I was younger and they didn’t know me. They would talk about me or about black people. I could understand them because I speak Farsi and I would politely let me know that.
I look American, but I am Iranian. I am an Iranian American.
I am a physical representation of what you are — it is my responsibility to show Iranians that we have the same experiences, we have the same problems, the same interests .
You are not alone. There is strength in numbers, we can fix every problem and every social issue if we just come together as a community.
– Have you ever been to Iran?
I’ve been to Iran – once when I was six and once when I was eight for a total of less than a month. I don’t remember much, but I do remember some things. I remember Jadeh Chaloose (highway that goes to Shomal), I remember Tehran being really crowded. I remember how the toilets are holes in the ground. I remember eating fruit off trees in the backyard and having the best food I’ve ever had.
I remember how nice everybody was to me. It was weird to me:
Iranians in America were mean, but Iranians in Iran were so nice.
– Was your family supportive of your career choice?
The fact that my dad didn’t stop me from doing it is in it’s own way supportive. The fact that he wasn’t like nakon! He always wanted me to be successful and do something that I would enjoy and love as long as I am successful at it. That was his only criteria. I got my education, which is something I personally wanted and I’m following my passion.
I’m following what I want to do.
– Your Persian dad is better than ours because…
He’s probably exactly the same. All Persian dads are the same – they look the same, they say the same thing, they all got that bald spot. I can’t say he’s better or worst.
– Did you ever rebel when you were growing up?
I wasn’t a big rebellious kid. I wish I had been a little more. I was a really chill kid. There was a period right before college where I got into a lot of trouble. I was hanging around a group of kids who were doing things that they shouldn’t be doing. They weren’t bad kids, they came from good neighborhoods and good families, but we would get into trouble. It never affected my school or my education – but it taught me a lot of lessons about who to be friends with and how to handle situations.
I never drink alcohol, I never tried any drugs, I’ve never smoked. I’m a little straight-edge. Not that I think it’s a bad thing if people do it, it’s just not my thing.
– What do you love about Persian girls?
I adore Persian girls. I hate when guys try to put down Persian girls. Persian girls are gorgeous – either they’re gorgeous or they are chewbacca.
I hate when they dye their hair blonde or wear contacts. If you look in history, the most beautiful goddesses and icons of all time have been brown hair and brown eyed girls so why cover up the mystique instead of expose it?
Persian girls are very intelligent, well-educated, classy, they know how to handle themselves. They are cultured for the most part. It’s unfortunate that because of a few shallow, materialistic girls, they give the others a bad rep. It’s a few that defines the many.
It’s always one bad Persian girl who ruins it for everyone else.
It’s not a coincidence that every year Miss Canada is Persian. At some point it’s like, hey maybe they’re just good looking and awesome.
– What do you hate about Persian girls?
When they try to act like someone they’re not – whether it’s a stuck up girl or a sell out girl or act more difficult than they actually are. That’s what I hate about Persian girls.
– Have you ever dated a Persian girl?
I have. In my experience when guys say that a girl is crazy… girls are not crazy, it’s the guys who make the girls crazy. Ever girl I’ve ever talked to in my entire life has always been amazing. The Persian girl I dated was the same, she was absolutely amazing. The only thing I regret is that I was just not on her level yet.
– What do you think about the perception in the Iranian culture that being a virgin is taboo?
I think it is a close-minded approach to a very complex scenario. I think a “slut” is a determination of character and personality more so than sexuality. I think that sex is a very natural thing, but it’s also something that should be gone about carefully.
A girl who has never had sex but is dating several people at once can still be considered a slut.
In my experience, Persian girls are NOT sluts.
– What advice do you have for the younger generation of Iranian Americans?
Be proud of who you are and where you came from because that’s indicative of where you will be going. Be proud of your parents who have dedicated so much of their lives to your future successes. Be proud of the heritage and culture that despite what you think has more influence on you as a whole.
Most of all, be proud of yourself no matter who or what you are. Just be proud and use this pride to unite us instead of divide us.
– What are three things you value most in life?
– How do you like your Fessenjoon?
I don’t like Fessenjoon. I actually don’t always like Persian food. This is where I get to pull out the black card. My favorite Persian dish is Ghormeh Sabzi hands down. DONE.
– Um but you like Sex&Fessenjoon… right?
I looooove Sex&Fessenjoon What’s sex without Fessenjoon?
Follow TEHRAN on Twitter: @IAmTehran