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Meet Millie Efraim and Natalie Sanandaji of Persian Girl Podcast in Hancock Park

Today we’d like to introduce you to Millie Efraim and Natalie Sanandaji.

So, before we jump into specific questions, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
It all started with a conversation we had after attending a Brit Milah. We were both venting to each other about the remarks we had heard at the event, “let me introduce you to someone”, “are you single”, etc. We thought it was so banal to have these conversations at the circumcision of an infant and this conversation led to a larger one: our frustrations with the community that we grew up in. Despite our deep love and connection to Persian culture, we also both recognized some of the issues that run deep in the community: sexism, fetishization of women’s youth and virginity and the double standards regarding men and women. What made our friendship unique was that yes, we are both Persian girls, but neither of us were ever fully involved in the communities we grew up in (Los Angeles and New York), as our personalities naturally isolated us from them. This “isolation” gave us an upper hand. Since we weren’t as involved in the Persian community we felt more free to be open about our issues within the community as a whole without fearing judgment. We realized we were each other’s first close Persian friend that we could speak openly to about everything. These conversations that kept unfolding felt like therapy for us because we recognized in each other the same pains. We knew others must be yearning for this same feeling of relatability and recognition. Somehow these series of conversations spun out into a podcast six months later. And by somehow we mean by a bottle of wine, tinkering with garageband, and googling how to upload a podcast online.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
In the very beginning we chose to be anonymous because we felt that our identities might distract listeners from the overall message we are trying to send. I think that rubbed some of our listeners the wrong way. They thought we weren’t proud or that we were hiding. It’s not that we were hiding, but our foremost concern was making sure our voice was synonymous with the voice of Persian women, our identities felt secondary at that time. But once we established a solid following we were so eager to finally take credit for what we created and form a more personal bond with our listeners.

Persian Girl Podcast – what should we know? What do you do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Persian Girl Podcast is a new platform for Iranian individuals to speak openly and candidly about their experiences in their communities. We are known for discussing topics deemed “unorthodox” or “taboo” such as mental health, sex, divorce, etc. Our first two seasons have been focused on interviewing Persian women and men who offer their perspective and share their stories with us. We are tremendously grateful for how quickly we were embraced by this small but strong community. One of the reasons we created this podcast was because we realized there were no other platforms for Persian women. Like so many other Middle Eastern cultures, we are often thrown under the vague category of ‘Arab’, especially in popular media. Not only are we dedicated to giving Iranians a voice, but we are also giving a voice to other Mizrahi Jews, like ourselves, who feel somewhat alienated from European-Jewish culture and Iranian culture. We recognize these idiosyncratic differences and try to incorporate these very niche, but important concerns into our podcast with humility and of course, humor.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
We can’t single out one moment that has been our proudest one, but we feel exceptionally proud every single time we receive a message from a listener telling us that they decided to do something they normally would not have done previously, such as seeking therapy or simply speaking openly about their views. We both undermined the extent to which so many women still felt afraid or unheard and till this day we’re shocked by the impact our podcast has had on the lives of our listeners, both first-generation American Iranians and Iranians in other parts of the world.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Sharvari Tavkar is the photographer for the image of Millie in the black dress in the bathroom.

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