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Actress Nazanin Boniadi's Incredibly Inspiring Advice for Overcoming Fear and Building Inner Strength

Photo: Matt Winkelmeyer/

For actor and activist Nazanin Boniadi, 38, fighting for human rights isn't just the right thing to do but also deeply personal. Here, read why. (Then catch her in the thriller Counterpart on Starz and in the film Hotel Mumbai in theaters March 29.)

One Voice Can Speak Volumes

“The people in my homeland of Iran are protesting against government corruption and for human rights. As a board member of the Center for Human Rights in Iran, I’m working to raise awareness of these issues and to help those who have been imprisoned for speaking up. I gave a speech at the German parliament this year, and I also spoke on a panel before a Senate caucus. I’m trying to get people across the globe invested and to make human rights a priority for lawmakers.” (FYI: Shape cover star Amber Heard is also a human rights activist.)

Inner Strength Will Drive You

“I have family in Iran, but I can’t go back because I am so outspoken about the government’s human rights violations. That’s heartbreaking. It’s also why I am driven to make sure that freedom prevails. There’s a point at which you have to stand up for what you believe in—to hell with the rest. You take your personal fears, like ‘I’m an actor. Do I have the right to say these things?’ and set them aside. The courage of the people in Iran who are willing to risk everything inspires me.” (Shay Mitchell's philosophy on fear will also give you major life inspiration.)

There Is Power In Art

“As an actor, I get to portray the human condition; as an activist, hopefully, I get to change it. It’s easy to get caught up in the superficiality of acting. The key is to keep myself grounded in the struggle people are going through across the world. In my acting work, I look for roles that can help raise awareness and start conversations.”


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