The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power star Nazanin Boniadi is harnessing her own power: the power of her voice and of her platform, to draw attention to what she calls the brutality of the regime currently ruling Iran.
Boniadi, who was born in Tehran but grew up in London, gave a powerful speech on Wednesday at the Academy Women’s Luncheon, calling on her fellow celebrities to raise awareness to the cause and the issues that are plaguing Iran today.
Her speech comes on the heels of months-long protests in Iran, sparked after the September arrest of Mahsa Amini, who died in police custody after the “morality police” found improperly-worn hijab a violation of their policies. She was seen by witnesses being beaten by police in a police van.
Since then, there have been ongoing protests in Iran, where schoolgirls, students, and everyday women are casting off their hijabs in protest. 15,000 protestors have been arrested and five have been sentenced to death.
This illegitimate regime must go. https://t.co/axRpLGrbIl— Nazanin Boniadi (@NazaninBoniadi) November 17, 2022
For Boniadi, the death sentence should be applied to the regime.
“Iranian women have caused a paradigm shift by openly defying a system of patriarchal misogyny that has subjugated them for four decades,” she said during her moving speech, “and they’ve gained allies across different sectors of Iranian society while doing it. Surely, we have a lot to learn from them.”
“How do we, the creative community, turn our outrage into meaningful action and prevent the Iranian authorities from crushing another uprising?” she continued. “One way is to use our profile and platform to spotlight the injustice.”
"I stand here with the ability to protest against injustices, while more than 15,000 protesters have been arrested and hundreds killed — including women and children — for peacefully protesting in my homeland in the past 2 months." https://t.co/zYdpsuj05Q— Variety (@Variety) November 17, 2022
Her audience included Claire Foy, Tessa Thompson, Janicza Bravo, Kerry Condon, Gina Prince-Bythewood, Diane Warren, Marlee Matlin, Chloe Zhao, Ruth Carter, and Rita Wilson, per Variety, and knowing that these powerful people can effect change, she reminded them of what celebrities in similar causes have done in the past.
“There’s a lesson to be learned from Alfre Woodard, Danny Glover, Blair Underwood and several other longtime anti-apartheid activists in the creative community, who in 1989 founded Artists for a Free South Africa and were pivotal in helping turn the tide,” she continued. “They successfully used their platforms to amplify and elevate the movement and that’s exactly what we need to do for Iran right now.”
She then detailed all the ways she feels powerful Hollywood voices can lend a hand:
“We need the world to send a strong message to the Iranian authorities that their crimes will not remain uninvestigated and unpunished. We have to demand that our representatives stand unequivocally with the Iranian people and hold the Islamic Republic regime to account for their crimes under international law.”
Dear fellow activists, please remember that if there wasn’t opposition to freedom & justice, we wouldn’t have to advocate for them.— Nazanin Boniadi (@NazaninBoniadi) November 16, 2022
It comes with the territory & the more impact we make the louder & more vitriolic the oppressors get.
Keep illuminating the truth.#MahsaAmini
“Please continue to amplify the voices of the Iranian people on social media by following and sharing information from credible activists and organizations. Please use the correct hashtags in these posts: #MahsaAmini and #IranRevolution.”
“Show up to protests and network with Iranian activists for strategic actions, like making informative videos.”
Woman life freedom.— Shaun Toub (@ShaunToub) November 11, 2022
Demonstration in Beverly Hills with my close friend @nazaninboniadi. She’s doing a lot for the people of Iran. Hope is alive.#mahsaamini #feeiran #cnn #foxnews #bbc #news #abcnews #nbcnews #cbsnews #amnestyinternational pic.twitter.com/glmvGrJ7kf
“Donate to credible, Iran-focused human rights organizations — such as Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA), Abdorrahman Boroumand Center and Amnesty International Iran — that document and report abuses.”
“As creatives, we rely heavily on the freedom of expression in our work, so we must do everything we can to protect it wherever it’s violated. Artists have a unique ability to reach the masses and impact change, which is perhaps why the silencing of artists has become a hallmark of oppressive states like the Islamic Republic. We owe it to our counterparts in Iran to stand with them as they fight for their most basic rights.”
She then ended her speech with a mic-drop: “So, now I’m asking you — our greater artistic community — will you join us in our fight for a free Iran?”
Read her entire speech here.