How Medalion Rahimi Overcame Bullying to Become Shondaland’s Next Muse

Medalion Rahimi must be used to the royal therapy. After all, she’s performed princesses on two Shonda Rhimes exhibits. But, like her characters’ roads to the throne, Rahimi—who at the moment stars in her second princess position on Rhimes’s newest sequence, “Still Star-Crossed”—didn’t face a straightforward path to success. 

As a first-generation Iranian American, Rahimi was bullied for her textured brown hair and light-red freckles, that are pure Iranian traits handed down from her mom and grandmother. And although they’ve develop into Rahimi’s most complimented options (simply check out her Instagram), they have been additionally the supply of her darkest insecurities rising up. “It’s made me stronger as a person,” she says. “I feel like if people can just wait out adolescence, it does get so much better.”

If individuals can simply wait out adolescence, it does get so significantly better.

Raised by two Iranian immigrants who fled Iran within the ’70s to flee a dictatorship, Rahimi spent her childhood crammed right into a one-bedroom condominium within the San Fernando Valley together with her dad and mom and older brother. While her dad and mom steadily labored their approach up—her dad as a dentist; her mother as an lawyer—Rahimi’s struggles continued at school.

“I had buck teeth, frizzy hair, freckles, and a retainer,” Rahimi says. “People called me Hermione sometimes, which I loved because I thought she was brave, but they meant it in sort of a mean way.” Along with calling her “metal mouth,” Rahimi’s classmates would make enjoyable of her hair and say her freckles have been an indication of illness. “It’s part of the reason why I’m so quiet,” she says. “It’s something I’ve learned to embrace, but it was definitely hard.”

Photo: Lionel Deluy

As a results of the bullying, Rahimi withdrew into herself and made efforts to alter her look. To conceal her hair texture, she braided her hair day by day earlier than graduating to a straightener. She even tried shaving elements of her head and dabbled in keratin therapy. When she began utilizing make-up, she did her finest to masks her freckles.

Rahimi slowly began regaining her confidence at age 12, when she starred as Cha-Cha DiGregorio in a seventh-grade manufacturing of Grease—a task she auditioned for on a whim that sparked her ardour for appearing. “It was a place where I could have a voice,” Rahimi says. “I was such a quiet kid that performing became a time when people would listen to me.”

Performing grew to become a time when individuals would hearken to me.

After a push from a highschool drama instructor, Rahimi went on to check theatre on the University of California, Los Angeles earlier than discovering an agent and nabbing small elements within the indie world. But she nonetheless felt suffering from the insecurities she confronted rising up. “I would go to auditions with a full face of makeup and straightened hair, thinking that that’s what people were looking for,” she says.

It wasn’t till about 4 years in the past, when Rahimi was 21 and relationship a person who was raised with a distinct view of magnificence, that her personal perspective began to shift. “He grew up in Paris and women there don’t really wear makeup. They are a little bit naturale,” says Rahimi. “He told me to just embrace my natural hair.”

medalionrahimilioneldeluy img4816 How Medalion Rahimi Overcame Bullying to Become Shondaland’s Next Muse

Photo: Lionel Deluy

As a end result, Rahimi grew out her pure hair, which was lower brief and barely broken from the keratin, and toned down her make-up drastically. “I started getting so many nice compliments from women who had incredible hair who were like, ‘I want your hair,’” she says. “You’re telling me you want my hair? It was crazy. I noticed as soon as I stopped doing that was when I really started to book roles, too.”

Soon after, Rahimi scored her large break on Rhimes’s comedy crime-drama present, “The Catch,” taking part in Princess Zara Al-Salim, a headstrong modern-day Arabian princess. Though the half solely lasted three episodes, Rahimi caught Rhimes’s eye, who solid her as a sequence common in “Still Star-Crossed,” a multi-ethnic tackle Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. In it, Rahimi stars as Princess Isabella, one in every of 5 leads of colour.

Though the present has confronted backlash for straying from the unique Romeo and Juliet, Rahimi isn’t involved in regards to the criticism. “It’s historical fiction, not a historical drama. It doesn’t need to make sense,” she says. “That’s what TV and film is all about—to just put you into a world. [The show] looks more like the world we live in. You don’t go somewhere and just see all one type of person anymore.”

medalion rahimi still star crossed 2 How Medalion Rahimi Overcame Bullying to Become Shondaland’s Next Muse

Photo: ABC/Manu Trillo

She appreciates that Rhimes doesn’t play into Hollywood white-washing, one thing Rahimi’s accustomed to after listening to repeatedly that casting administrators “decided to go a different direction”—a code, she defined, that normally means selecting the blonde, white woman.

“I always loved that Shonda’s shows are so colorful and multiracial,” says Rahimi. “I’ve seen a white woman with brown hair and brown eyes and maybe a bit of a tan play Hispanic or Middle Eastern and put on an accent. I really think [casting directors] should give those opportunities to someone who comes from that culture because they carry it inside of them.”

You don’t go someplace and simply see all one kind of particular person anymore.

Racial range isn’t the one factor Rahimi praises “Still Star-Crossed” for. After repeatedly taking part in “ditzy party girls” and “women manufactured by men for men,” she says it’s refreshing to play a sophisticated, hyper-intelligent princess who, in some methods, is healthier to rule than her brother—however is compelled to sit down on the sidelines as a result of she’s a girl. Rahimi sees loads of parallels between the sexism within the present and America in 2017.

“The U.S. could’ve had a woman in power after our last election,” she says. “Maybe [Hillary Clinton] wasn’t the best option, but she was better than the current option. There was a lot of prejudice because she was a woman. That relates fully to the show. Even though it’s set in the 1700s, it’s still prevalent today and definitely an issue.”

medalion rahimi still star crossed How Medalion Rahimi Overcame Bullying to Become Shondaland’s Next Muse

Photo: ABC/Manu Trillo

As the daughter of Iranian immigrants, Rahimi feels significantly fired-up in regards to the Trump Administration, particularly after the current journey ban in opposition to six Muslim-majority nations, together with Iran. “The U.S. was built on immigrants and [the ban] is insane to me,” Rahimi says. “I think a lot of people are upset, even the people whose beliefs were in line with the Republican party and the conservatives. This is more than that; it’s about humanity.”

Rahimi is utilizing her voice as an Iranian-American actress to fight the invoice by making telephone calls, sending letters, and attending city corridor conferences. On a much less political degree, Rahimi–who desires of diversifying the wonder trade away from “European Anglo-American-looking girls”—is keen about reshaping the way in which all younger women, not simply these of Middle Eastern descent, see themselves whereas rising up.

“I’m happy with who I am. I think a princess has to be confident,” Rahimi says. “It’s so important to just be who you are. It’s good to embrace our differences. We shouldn’t all look the same. This world would be so boring.”

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