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Nazanin Boniadi Calls on Hollywood to ‘Spotlight the Injustice’ in Iran

In September, 22-year-old Mahsa Amini was arrested by Iran’s “morality police” for allegedly wearing her hijab improperly. She later died in custody after eyewitnesses say they saw her being beaten in a police van.

“There’s a lesson to be learned from Alfre Woodard, Danny Glover, Blair Underwood and several other longtime anti-apartheid activists in the creative community, who in 1989 founded Artists for a Free South Africa and were pivotal in helping turn the tide,” she continued. “They successfully used their platforms to amplify and elevate the movement and that’s exactly what we need to do for Iran right now.”

Read Boniadi’s full speech below.

Good afternoon. Thanks to the Academy and to Chanel for organizing this fabulous luncheon.

It’s a privilege to be here with you today. The word privilege is used often in these contexts but let me explain why it holds a deeper meaning for me.

You see, as I contemplated what to talk about in these few minutes — what to say to a group of accomplished women and industry leaders — there were a lot of issues that came to mind: Pay parity; bodily autonomy; representation; an industry in which we still too often diminish or turn a blind eye to women reporting workplace misconduct and in which there’s still a tacit agreement that speaking up makes us unemployable.

But while there’s still a lot of work to do to change the conditions we as women find ourselves in here at home, the resounding voice in my head kept echoing the words “Woman Life Freedom.”

Because for two months now, that has been the battle cry for women in Iran, in what has become the first female-led revolution of our time.

Advocating for the women of Iran has been my passion for 14 years, but let me take a step back. For me, the struggle for women’s rights started when I attended my very first protest in Tehran during the 1979 Islamic Revolution, while still in my mother’s womb. She was 19 and bravely joined the tens of thousands of protesters who opposed the newly forming theocracy. My parents realized the dangers of raising a daughter in a social, political and legal climate that was growing increasingly oppressive, particularly toward women and girls. Although they were granted political asylum in London when I was just three weeks old, the challenges facing women in Iran became ingrained in my psyche. And after traveling across Iran when I was 12, and a traumatizing encounter with the so called “morality police” — tasked with enforcing the country’s Islamic dress code and behavior — I knew I had to use my voice to promote theirs.


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