Iranian actress Baharan Baniahmadi dares to be reborn in freedom
Baharan Baniahmadi, Iranian actress and author
From a young age, Baharan Baniahmadi escaped through the imagination of the stories his mother read to him and the words of the lullabies sung by his grandmother. The playwright, born in Tehran in 1984 during the Iran-Iraq war, found refuge in art, which inspired her to create her own stories a few years later.
“I unconsciously chose art to be able to create another world, to imagine a universe better than real life”, launches the committed author, recently winner of the 2022 Paragraphe Hugh MacLennan prize from the Quebec Writer's Federation, for her third novel Prophetess, which addresses trauma, women's rights and religion through a story told by a seven-year-old girl.
Although Ms. Baniahmadi remembers the trauma of her childhood during wartime and the oppression suffered by women in Iran, she wishes, with her novels, to give women the courage to dare to follow their dreams.
In search of freedom
At the age of 22, Ms. Baniahmadi left her country of origin to settle in France, where she lived for three years, until the outbreak of the Green Movement in Iran in 2009. In light of this movement, she then decided to return.
“We wanted to reform a regime that is not reformable,” laments the one who decides all the same to stay alongside her family and forge a career as an actress and writer. This is how, during her twenties, the young woman with ebony hair played several roles on television and in Iranian films.
“There was a lot of pressure for actresses to wear the veil in front of the camera, we were traumatized,” says Ms. Baniahmadi, a graduate in theater from Tehran University of Art and in philosophy from Saint-Denis University.
“I no longer wanted to pretend to be someone else and it started with being able to choose what I want to wear,” says the one who was thinking of emigrating to Quebec one day.
A new departure
As soon as she arrived in La Belle Province at the beginning of 2018, Ms. Baniahmadi was able to make her way in the artistic field. She has played roles in several Quebec productions and TV series, such as Chaos, All Life and Alertes.
I was not born in Quebec, but here, I was able to be reborn. I found myself.
Baharan Baniahmadi, multidisciplinary artist
In 2021, she co-founded the agency On est là! alongside her husband and several other seasoned artists from various backgrounds. The agency’s mission is to support artists and artisans from diverse backgrounds and to increase their representation within Quebec productions.
Dare to lift his voice
“Until Mahsa Amini's death, I thought I was free, but I really wasn't,” said Ms. Baniahmadi, deeply touched by the Iranian women's revolution sparked by the young woman's murder. last September.
“Even though I have been living in a free country for a few years now, I always wore a hat or a scarf when I was in front of the camera and the public. I was always scared,” she tells us.
I wondered why I was afraid in a free country, while my sisters and brothers are sacrificing their lives for freedom in Iran.
Baharan Baniahmadi, artist from Tehran
“When I saw that my compatriots were sacrificing their lives to recover our country from the regime that colonized it almost half a century ago, I changed. Now I am free, I am myself,” she says. Two months ago, she decided to appear without a scarf or hat on social networks in solidarity with her Iranian colleagues.
Women, life, freedom
“We have experienced things in the Middle East that are far from the reality of people in the West. I'm happy to have experienced that, because today I can carry a message and maybe change things,” says the mother, who wants to “do her best” to be the voice of Iranian women. , Afghans and other citizens who don't.
Women, Life, Freedom is one of the most beautiful revolutions in the world.
Baharan Baniahmadi, Iranian actress and author
“Freedom is not an individual matter, we must ensure that everyone is free and happy. If we remain silent about what is happening elsewhere, in another country that is not free, the danger could arrive here one day and it will be our children who will pay for it.
Ms. Baniahmadi is currently working on her first French-language novel, entitled La conjugation duverb françER. The story will address the integration challenges of a Middle Eastern immigrant woman in Quebec and her learning of the French language. At the same time, she is working on her theater project Invisible veil,which will also focus on women and immigration in Quebec.
This text was produced as part of The Local Journalism Initiative.