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Find your calling

Updated: Jun 26, 2020

One of the biggest Asian names in the world’s capital of films and TV is Faran Tahir. With a successful Hollywood career over 25 years, Faran has starred in blockbusters such as Star Trek, Iron Man, Escape Plan, Charlie Wilson’s War and The jungle book. He has starred in multiple hit TV serials like The Practice, Family Law, The Agency, NYPD Blue, Lost, and The Blacklist.

He has also been a well-known name in the theatre circle in the USA, and this talented actor’s face is familiar to millions around the world.

Please Watch this 2 mins video to get glimpses of his life journey so far.

Do read his full interview with Inspirational Beings team to know what all challenges he had to go through during his journey, how did he manage to overcome those challenges, what are his learnings.

1. Please tell us about your childhood and personal background?

I was born in Los Angeles while my parents were studying theatre and performing arts at the University of California, Los Angeles. Until the age of 17, I grew up in Pakistan except for little time spent in the UK. I moved to the US at the age of 17. I come from a family that has been immersed in the arts and literature for almost four generations — starting with my great grandparents.

2. When and why you decided to become an actor?

In retrospect, my love with acting started when I was a little kid. I would often secretly stand in front of the mirror and act out scenes. It concretized during my undergraduate Berkeley to pursue it as my chosen field. I got my graduate training in performing arts at Harvard. On a very personal level, what excites me most about acting is that it gives me a chance to walk in other people’s shoes. It expands my understanding and empathy for others.

3. What are some of the key challenges you faced in walking on this route? Any learning you want to share with our readers?

This field is chock-full of incredible stories of hardships and resilience. I had my share of challenges. I had seen many tough days when I had to stretch $20 for weeks because I had no money. I have even lived off my car. Moreover, it was not easy to carve a place for me, given that there weren’t too many exciting characters being written for people like me. I persevered and never lost hope. I might have failed at times, but I am never defeated. Setbacks never discourage me. I used them as fuel to my fire. I guess once you make a decision, you find ways to survive.

There will always be stereotypical roles, but I think that things are slowly changing. Hollywood is a tough place and not for everyone. Egos can be fragile, and the business is tough. People with glass chins won’t survive. You need to be able to take a few punches and still be able to get back up.

Formal education in acting was important. In my case, it was better to study theatre. I was trying to create a niche for myself. I didn’t have friends or the network, and I can’t change the color of my skin, so I needed to be better prepared.

I initially decided to graduate in business and economics but then realized my passion for the performing arts and studied theatre at the University of California, Berkeley, and Harvard University.

4. Which are the best and the worst experiences till now in your journey?

I don’t look at the experience as good or bad. There is always a lesson to be learned. I focus on the lesson.

5. You have done film, television, and theatre. What has given you the highest satisfaction?

We are basically storytellers. They are some stories that are best told on the big screen. Others require the freedom that television offers, where you can expand the story over multiple episodes. Then they are specific stories that are served best with the immediacy and intimacy that stage can provide.

6. You are one of the few Asian actors who has made it in Hollywood: how does that feel? Any advice would you like to give young Asian actors?

I have been very fortunate. To be honest, I focus on try to improve myself and not get caught in labels that others might put-on me. I am very proud of my heritage, and I hope that I can make Asians proud because of my work. To the young Asian artists who have chosen this field, I would advise them to own up to their heritage. Be proud of it, and yet don’t limit your growth for any reason.

Never give up on your dreams and work hard to achieve them. Complacency is death. When you find failure, be brave, and when you find success, show humility.

Always do what you are passionate about. It’s the only way you will excel in the field.

7. Tell us about Taj Tahir Foundation?

Taj Tahir Foundation was started by my father. The foundation is dedicated to celebrating, preserving, improving, developing arts in all forms.

8. What is the definition of success to you?

I don’t gauge success in terms of popularity. To me, success is to be at the stage where I can make brave choices in my career and create a body of work that is diverse and unique.

9. What is your mantra in life?

Follow your heart. Never give up. Stay true to yourself.

10. What are your future plans?

I want to create, curate, commission exciting work. I am trying to focus on producing, directing, and/or acting in content that is not only entertaining but also offers something more profound.

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