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Nazanin Boniadi

Nazanin BoniadiNazanin Boniadi (Persian: نازنین بنیادی‎) born the 22nd of May 1980 is a Iranian British actress currently living and working in the United States. Boniadi was born in Tehran, Iran and her parents moved to London when she was just an infant. She performed on the violin and danced ballet as a young girl. She was educated at a private school and later moved to the United States where she earned a Bachelor Degree, with Honors, in Biological Sciences from the University of California at Irvine.

At UCI, she won the Chang Pin-Chun Undergraduate Research Award for molecular research involving cancer treatment and heart transplant rejection. She was also Assistant Editor-in-Chief of MedTimes, the UCI undergraduate medical newspaper. Boniadi decided to change her career path from medicine and started pursuing acting in 2006. Her first major acting role was as Leyla Mir on the Emmy Award-winning daytime drama General Hospital and its SOAPnet spin-off series General Hospital: Night Shift, making her the first contract actor to play a Middle Eastern character in American daytime television history. She is also the first Iranian-born actress to ever be on contract and performing on an American soap opera. She was nominated for an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Daytime Drama Series in 2008 for her role in General Hospital.

Nazanin BoniadiBoniadi has also landed supporting roles in several major Hollywood film productions, such as Charlie Wilson's War directed by Mike Nichols, Iron Man directed by Jon Favreau, and The Next Three Days directed by Paul Haggis. In February 2011, she debuted as Nora, a love interest for the Neil Patrick Harris character Barney Stinson, on the sixth season of the hit CBS sitcom How I Met Your Mother. She reprised this role during the show's seventh season. In November 2011, Boniadi appeared opposite George Clooney in a European spot for Nespresso, called The Swap, directed by Grant Heslov.

Boniadi is an Official Spokesperson for Amnesty International USA (AIUSA), and has worked at a grassroots level and appeared on international TV and radio programs to campaign for the rights of disenfranchised populations across the world. In particular, she has been very involved in safeguarding human rights by participating in events that bring attention to the unjust conviction and treatment of Iranian youth, women and prisoners of conscience. Boniadi provided a voiceover to AIUSA’s Power of Words public service announcement with Morgan Freeman, which won a Webby Award; she campaigned with the organization for the International Violence Against Women Act (I-VAWA) and has served as a panelist and emcee for events related to Iranian rights, as well as spearheading The Neda Project with AIUSA in May/June 2010.

Nazanin BoniadiShe has an official blog on the Amnesty International USA website. In December 2010, she initiated an Amnesty International petition for Iranian film directors Jafar Panahi and Mohammad Rasoulof, who were convicted of “propaganda against the state”. The petition was co-signed by prominent Hollywood directors and industry leaders such as Paul Haggis, Martin Scorsese, Sean Penn, Harvey Weinstein, Ron Howard and others, and generated over 21,000 signatures. On June 8th, 2011, Boniadi joined a delegation of Hollywood luminaries, led by Haggis and AIUSA Executive Director Larry Cox, to deliver the petition to the Iran Mission to the United Nations in New York City.

On June 3rd, 2011, Boniadi joined Sarah Shourd in a rolling hunger strike in solidarity with Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal and wrote an article in support of the Free The Hikers campaign. On July 11th, 2011, Boniadi received the Social Cinema Award at the Ischia Global Film & Music Festival for her human rights work with Amnesty International. On April 9th, 2012, she returned to her alma mater - the University of California, Irvine, with Rainn Wilson in support of the Education Under Fire campaign, calling for an end to discrimination against and persecution of Baha'is in Iran. On October 4th, 2012, Boniadi delivered the keynote closing remarks at The XX Factor, Amnesty International USA annual town hall meeting on women's rights, in Washington, D.C.

Nazanin BoniadiIn December, 2012, she helped launch an Amnesty International petition and campaign with Roxana Saberi, to free wrongfully imprisoned filmmaker Behrouz Ghobadi, brother of acclaimed filmmaker Bahman Ghobadi, in Iran. The petition was signed by prominent Hollywood directors such as Martin Scorsese and Paul Haggis, actors such as Liam Neeson, Mila Kunis, James Franco and Adrien Brody, as well as major film industry organizations and festivals. On January 22nd, 2013, Amnesty International announced that Behrouz Ghobadi had been released on bail from prison in Iran. On May 4th, 2013, Boniadi was a keynote speaker at Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson's 13th annual 'A World of Women for World Peace' conference in Dallas, Texas.

In September 2012, Vanity Fair magazine published a story written by Special Correspondent Maureen Orth alleging that Shelly Miscavige, the wife of Church of Scientology leader David Miscavige, headed a secretive mission to find a suitable Scientologist girlfriend for Tom Cruise. Boniadi was allegedly selected in a screening process conducted by top Scientology official Greg Wilhere. Orth reported that Boniadi was led to believe she had been selected for a top secret project to help the world and further her religion and that she would be meeting with "world leaders". She also reports that as part of the month long preparation for this secret mission Wilhere demanded that Boniadi darken her hair, remove her orthodontic braces, and that she break up with her long term boyfriend, also a Scientologist, with whom she was very much in love. When she refused, Wilhere allegedly showed Boniadi her boyfriend's transgressions against her in his confidential parishioner files, causing Boniadi to end their relationship.

Nazanin BoniadiBoniadi was then allegedly flown to New York where Wilhere introduced her to Tom Cruise, who successfully courted her. Boniadi was allegedly made to sign a confidentiality agreement. Boniadi and Cruise were romantically involved from November 2004 until January 2005, during which time she lived with Cruise. Orth reports that there was a great deal of control over Boniadi's life by Church officials and Cruise's handlers during their relationship and that she fell out of favor with Cruise after unintentionally insulting Miscavige by saying "Excuse me?" and asking him to repeat himself more than once, apparently an indication in Scientology that one is not a good communicator or listener.

Upon ending the relationship with Boniadi, Cruise allegedly sent her away to the Scientology facilities in Clearwater, Florida, where Boniadi was later demeaningly punished for telling a friend about her ordeal. Orth reports that Boniadi was made to clean toilets with a toothbrush, scrub bathroom tiles with acid and dig ditches in the middle of the night as part of her punishment. The Church of Scientology and Cruise's representative denied all allegations. Writer/director and former Scientologist Paul Haggis issued a statement confirming that Boniadi had indeed been used in this way by the Church of Scientology. He also stated that Boniadi "quietly and privately" resigned from the Church of Scientology around 2010 after "several years of trying to handle this injustice internally, to no avail".


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Year Title Role Notes
2007 The Game Josie 2 Episodes
General Hospital: Night Shift Leyla Mir 13 Episodes
2007–2009 General Hospital Leyla Mir 119 Episodes
2010 The Deep End Heather Mosson Episode: "To Have and to Hold"
24 Blonde Woman 2 Episodes
Hawthorne Aneesa Amara Episode: "Final Curtain"
2011 Suits Lauren Pearl Episode: "Errors and Omissions"
How I Met Your Mother Nora 9 Episodes
2012 CSI Nurse Lauren Episode: "Seeing Red"
Best Friends Forever Naya 2 Episodes
2013 Go On Hannah Episode: "Gooooaaaallll Doll!"
Grey's Anatomy Amrita Episode: "The Face of Change"
Year Film Role Notes
2006 Kal: Yesterday & Tomorrow Simmi Short Film
2007 Gameface Taylor
2008 Charlie Wilson's War Afghan Refugee Woman Uncredited
Iron Man Amira Ahmed
2009 Diplomacy Persian Interpreter Short Film
2010 The Next Three Days Elaine
2012 Shirin in Love Shirin
2013 Desert Dancer Parisa Ghaffarian

Nazanin Boniadi on Women's Rights at Amnesty's XX Factor Event


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