Interview with Parisa Montazaran from The Real World, Sydney.
WASHINGTON, DC – The year 2007 is coming to a close, and yet MTV’s long-running-mega-hit show, The Real World — which some consider ‘the cradle of reality-TV’ — still manages to stay on the forefront of exposing raw and unfiltered modern-American-culture. This season’s drama-filled show is set in Sydney, Australia with an all-American cast; Parisa, Isaac, Cohutta, Dunbar, Kellyanne, and Ashli.
Parisa Montazaran, noted for being the most level-headed and relatable by viewers, is The Real World’s first Iranian-American cast-member. Based in New York, Parisa has a degree in International Relations from NYU, flawless Persian-hair, an über-sexy physique, and a gift for music that’s bound to dishevel any rival.
However, what has made Parisa a fan-favorite by a landslide, is her ability to calmly overcome an excess of distasteful behavior exhibited towards her by a few of her housemates. This Persian beauty’s unmatched patience, has become the hottest blog topic for the comment-obssessed as technology allows viewers to voice their opinions online, albeit anonymously at times. Parisa’s supporters have already plastered Real World-related blogs, Facebook, and Myspace pages with pro-Parisa groups and chants. ”Team Parisa” and “Enjoy your flight. Take Care.” — a phrase Parisa is now famous for from Episode 18, aptly named ’Enjoy Your Flight’ – take the lead in the Parisa-infused comment-battles dominated by her loyal cyber-soldiers.We hope to write about Parisa’s first Grammy win some day, but in the meantime, “Enjoy your read. Take care.”
SKS: Where were you born?
PM: Brooklyn, NY
Where do you currently reside?
Long Island, NY and the occasional couch in Manhattan.
Being on MTV is huge. Do you get recognized a lot now?
Yes and no. New York is a huge huge place so there are times when people definitely recognize you but a lot of people don’t say anything, they just smile or say hi and then other times (like at the doctor or in a restaurant), they’ll take out the cameras or put me on the phone with a relative. Those make for some interesting stories!
Favorite Real World season?
How did you end up on The Real World?
Casting directors came to NYU and were privately interviewing student organizations on campus. I went to a sorority meeting and found myself sitting in a circle discussion about relationships and the war in Afghanistan. I guess I was a bit more vocal about politics because they kept calling me back and a year later I got a call to go to Australia!
Do you feel that your character was accurately portrayed on The Real World?
I think every individual has way too many layers to capture and display in a fraction of a 22-minute program. That said, I think they definitely captured a few qualities of my character and tried to portray them as genuinely as they could within the storylines we get to see. Imagine living with 7 people for 4 months and getting to know them and having to describe everything that you learned to the world; if you’re off on a few points, it’s not really the end of the world considering how huge the bigger picture is…
Who did you grow closest to during the show?
I grew close to all my roommates in different ways but I keep in touch most with Ashli, KellyAnne, Cohutta and Isaac.
Is the Parisa we see on TV the same one we would find off-screen?
Yes and no. I’m pretty open, and I forget to filter at times but I think there were a lot of factors in the Real World House (captivity, chemistry with roommates) that brought out qualities that I didn’t know I could possess and probably won’t come out again — considering that off-screen, I’m free to hang out and be comfortable with my surroundings.
How did you like Sydney, Australia?
It was like heaven on earth. Absolutely beautiful.
What did your family think about the show?
They love it (I hope!).
How close are you to your former roommates now?
Very. I talk to Ashli multiple times a day and KellyAnne almost every day. I talk to Cohutta and Isaac often too.
Do you watch the show?
Would you do the show again?
In a heartbeat.
So, doing the show was a positive experience?
I would probably do some things differently but it definitely was and continues to be a learning experience.
Do you feel as though you may have been treated differently by some of your cast members because of your Iranian heritage, and all the negative media coverage that’s attached to it?
It came up in conversations with the guys because they seemed to be a little more knowledgeable on the politics of the situation; Isaac is half-Jewish and well-read on the history of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict and Iran’s history with its Jewish population, and Dunbar, being in the military and going to college, learned a lot more about the political tensions in the Mid-East and Iran’s role in that. The girls didn’t really ask, and Cohutta tried to stay out of politics and religion altogether.
Like all Iranian moms, your mom gives the best advice. Does she have a fan club yet? Do you think her advice is what helped you remain so calm for as long as you did?
My mom, my dad and my younger sister really helped me throughout the entire experience by keeping my [head] leveled and offering really grounded, objective insight. I owe them my sanity for most of those first few months.
What’s your favorite thing about being Iranian and what does it mean to you?
Being Iranian has awarded me a sense of humanity and culture that I don’t think I would possess if I grew up being like everyone else around me. It sparked curiosities in me that wouldn’t otherwise be provoked and gave me the opportunity to learn and want to learn more about people, the world, life. I’m very proud of my heritage.
Can you read and write in Farsi?
Fluently! I took graduate courses in Farsi at NYU as an undergraduate and was thinking of pursuing a MA or PhD in the intellectual and cultural history of Iran.
What’s your favorite Iranian dish?
What’s your sign?
Libra/Scorpio cusp (October 20th)
How has your life changed since the show?
My life was in for a major change after graduating in December last year so I’m taking all the changes as more transitioning to life post-graduation vs. life post-”The Real World”. I’m not in school anymore and I’m not on “vacation” in Australia, so now it’s back to what I was planning on doing after school: singing and performing.
How’s your music career progressing? Will you ever do a Farsi song?
I would absolutely LOVE to do a Farsi song (Googoosh, call me!). I’ve been singing the anthem at sporting events (NJ Nets, American Volleyball Professionals) and getting back to work on my album, working with Grammy Award winning producer Jimmy Greco (Jennifer Lopez, Carlos Santana, Celine Dion) on his label, Airgo Music, which is progressing nicely.
The Real World currently airs every Wednesday at 10:00 PM EST on MTV, but what have you been doing since filming wrapped?
In addition to singing and auditioning for acting/voiceover work, I’m also traveling around the country ,speaking at universities about my experience on the show, intercultural exchange and perceptions of Islam in America.
How can your fans stay current on your work?
Check out myspace.com/parisa720. I keep up with the page even when I’m traveling and update with music and news all the time.
Parisa, thank you for taking the time to do this interview.
Thank you so much for the opportunity!