Jay Jonroy’s taboo-breaking comedy David & Layla has many bright spots, but perhaps none are brighter than the intoxicating presence of Shiva Rose as Layla, a free-spirited Kurdish Muslim woman who falls in love with a Jewish man, causing turmoil among their friends and families. One look at Rose is enough to convince an audience that a devout Jewish guy would seriously consider converting to Islam in order to stay by her side. Rose’s life was cross-cultural from her birth to an Iranian father and Irish mother. She was married for 13 years to actor Dylan McDermott; the couple divorced not long after the release of David & Layla, Rose’s first feature film leading role. The marriage yielded two children, a fact you would never imagine when witnessing Rose’s youthful, ebullient performance.
But more than just a beauty, Rose has been actively involved in raising political awareness of her father’s homeland, both protesting the Bush Administration’s policies towards Iran and Iraq, while expressing support for the democratic movement in Iran. The following excerpts from her
Pari: As a fast rising actress, did you had any concern that branding yourself as a Muslim or middle-eastern may limit the rules offered to you in future?
Shiva: Not at all, I have had that problem in past. I have gone to many auditions. Sometimes they say I am not American enough for the part, other times I am not Middle Eastern enough for the part. So I have come across that challenge. But I think to be appreciative of your roots is the very thing that is going to set you apart from all the other people. And I’m very passionate about being Iranian. And I feel I am this person because of it. So, I can understand why one would think that way, but I suppose the story outweighed. The story was far greater to me than worrying about being pigeon-holed.
Pari: You have been very vocal and active on your political views, are you worried that this may have a negative impact on your career considering you are half Iranian?
Shiva: You know I felt so passionately that this war with Iraq was such a mistake that I was willing to do anything to get my message across. The first time that I participated in a demonstration and in an arrest was four and a half years ago, before the war started. And I just wrote an essay that is going to be published on Huffington Post, about how when I got arrested I knew deep down in my soul even though it was a little bit frightening that if we didn’t stand up and stop this that the consequences would be horrific beyond our expectations. And sadly enough, it’s come to pass. And then I had another arrest in May of last year. And once again I felt this frustration. The great thing about being an American is that I can voice my opinion and get arrested. So I thought, why not do this now? Especially since Iran seems to be the next focal point of this madness. So, I thought why not do this for both my countries?