Interview with the actress Shiva Rose

Shiva Rose is an American-Iranian actress and played in Kurdish director Jalal Jonroy's
first feature "David & Layla". Pari Esfandiari who is a broadcast journalist conducted below
interview for IrandDokht.com

Below is a part of this interview.

www.irandokht.com / 2007-02-21

A socially conscious actress

Pari Esfandiari
: We are living in a politically volatile times and it is especially difficult for
those of us with Middle-Eastern origin. For the sake of their career, many are forced to
conceal their ethnicity, name, identity and of course their political views.
Yet, the American-Iranian Shiva Rose, one of the fast and upcoming actresses of
Hollywood, not only accepts a lead role in the movie David and Leila as a Muslim Kurdish
woman, but even braver is her participation in the anti-war movement that has resulted in
several incidents of her arrest. Today, we join her in her home for a discussion.


Pari: The critics call it (David & Layla) a political comedy, how
do you describe it?

Shiva: “David & Layla” is the story of a Kurdish Muslim refugee
who comes to New York and falls in love with a Jewish American
man named David. It’s a really lovely story of how the similarities
in their culture outweigh the differences. Their families are
opposed to the marriage, yet they persevere and stay together
because they really do love each other. So it has a little bit of the
politics, which I like, but yet it’s done in such a comedic way
such a lightweight, that you don’t feel you are being hit on the
head with the politics. It’s a sort of modern day Romeo and

Pari: So, it is a personal story with wider dimension?

Shiva: I think a little bit of both. I think everyone can relate to being in love, and maybe not
having it go as smoothly as one would like. And that part of it can be personal. And then
the universal themes, we touch upon ISRael and Palestine and what is to be done with
that. We also touch upon what happened to the Kurdish people under Saddam Hussein
and the gassing of a lot the Kurds. Considering the time we are living in, it is interesting to
hear a about the historical backgrounds and cultures that most Americans don’t know
much about.

Pari: Absolutely, it is crucial, actually the film director Jay Jonroy is a Kurd with first hand
experiences of many of these events.

Shiva: Yes, Jay Jonroy is the director and he actually is a survivor. He’s an incredible
person because he has survived so much and suffered a lot of tragedies in his life. Some
of his family members were killed and imprisoned. But he is able to take his story and
make it into this amazing film where everyone can enjoy it. And yet you get to learn about
the Kurdish culture and you also get to know about what happened to them. But like I said,
it’s done in a way that you don’t come out of theatre feeling very depressed. You come out
feeling joyful and optimistic that love can happen, anywhere, with anyone.

Pari: And there is a message of hope always.

Shiva: Yes, there is always hope.

Pari: How did you get involved with this movie David & Layla?

Shiva: I knew at that moment that it was an
opportunity that I could not miss. The
opportunity to play a Muslim, yet a Kurdish
woman, who wears these bright colorful
clothes, who is so poetic and artistic. These
are things that Western people forget when
they think of a Muslim woman. So, I really
wanted to portray this character, so I flew on
the plane one night on my day off from the
play and I auditioned and I flew back the next
day. So, it was definitely a sacrifice, but I think
it paid off. I think once Jay and I met we
realized that I am Layla.


Pari: David and Layla has been shown in several places. What have been the reactions
from the audience?

Shiva: I’m always amazed at the laughter that comes from it. The few screenings I’ve gone
to, people seem to really enjoy it. There was one screening at UCLA where we had a lot of
Middle Eastern students and they laughed so hard at some of the scenes. And then of
course in New York, where there was a more Jewish audience, they laughed as hard at
some of the Jewish situations. So I think people of all faith relate to it and enjoy it.

Pari: That is the power of movies.

Shiva: Definitely

Pari: You have received several awards for this movie. Which one is the closest to your

Shiva: I suppose at the Fort Lauderdale Film Festival I received the Best Breakthrough in
an independent movie. That meant a lot to me because when you have been acting for so
many years, it’s nice to be noticed. I like the idea that it is a breakthrough. I’ve been acting
at my craft for over 10, 15 years, but it’s always nice to be thought of as an up and coming

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