I derive a vicarious thrill from watching people richer, fitter, and better dressed than me live their lives in situations that naturally foster drama. I am therefore obsessed with reality television. And with it's stellar editing, high production value, and complex characters, Bravo is the gold standard of the genre. If Bravo is HBO, and Shahs of Sunset is its Veep (the Housewives franchise is its Game of Thrones). Affectionately called Shah's, the wildly entertaining show follows a group of Iranian Americans living in west Los Angeles (within a broader area often referred to as "Tehrangeles" given its influx of Iranian immigrants) as they balance their social lives, careers, and family expectations.
Despite my shameless obsession with the genre, I would never appear on reality TV (not that I've been approached). I am far too self-conscious, preferring to lurk invisibly while drama unfolds around me rather (I operate similarly within my friend-group). I was therefore thrilled for the chance to pick the brain of Shervin Roohpavar, a cast-member on one of my favorite Bravo shows. Read our conversation below to see if reality TV is right for you.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?
I'm a serial entrepreneur that was previously based out of Silicon Valley, but currently residing in L.A. I started my first company while in the PreMed program at the University of California in Riverside, majoring in Neurological Science. Since then, I have been based out of the Northern California/Bay Area and L.A., running my own IT Asset Disposition company. I really enjoy business, and the growth and development that takes place throughout the different stages of running a company. Aside from that, I consider my self an avid car enthusiast, an adrenaline junkie, a world traveler, and most of all, I have a passion for celebrating life.
How did you end up on reality TV?
I was reached out to by the production team of Bravo TV's Shahs of Sunset, and was told they were referred by a mutual friend. They said they were interested in learning more about me after having seen some snapshots of my life through social media.
How has your life changed since the airing of Shahs of Sunset?
Life has changed a lot, mostly for the better, and all in a way that I would not have been able to fathom. Being recognized and complimented by professional entertainers is so surreal, and being asked to take pictures on the street by fans is very flattering. Just taking five seconds to take a picture and make someone happy is such an amazing power to have, I truly enjoy knowing that I just helped put a smile on someone's face. Also, the messages of encouragement and support I receive on a daily basis are so uplifting, and knowing that what I do motivates others in a positive way to enhance their own lives, makes all the hard work worth it. I chose to take on this opportunity in order to gain a unique experience that most people don't get a chance to do, and thus far, the ride has been a blast!
What makes a successful reality star?
Being a successful reality star is all about being opinionated and not shying away from sharing that opinion, regardless of the consequence. It' not necessarily about fighting or acting over the top wild, in my opinion; it's more about engaging and being sure to communicate what's on your mind in a raw, uncensored way. These shows are a collection of different personalities, and the goal of the reality show, is to provide the spectrum of personalities so, that all viewers can relate to at least one opinion that's being shared. It's important to remain yourself, keep it as real as possible, and just put all your cards on the table. I was once told that to be a successful reality star you have to let the camera see into your "private medicine cabinet," and show your true self, vulnerabilities and all.
What do you dislike about being on reality TV?
As much as I really appreciate and enjoy being recognized when out and about in public this comes with the sacrifice of always having to be photo ready at all times. The days of just running down the street to get a coffee or some quick groceries, while dressing whatever/however, are long gone. Through this experience, I have learned that you never know who will take a picture of you with or without your knowledge and permission, then post/tag you in it online or via social media. Your image is your brand, and now you have to be much more conscious of that, even during mundane day-to-day activities.
Are you happy with how you're portrayed on Shahs of Sunset?
I am very happy with how I am portrayed on Shahs of Sunset. This show prides itself in being 100% real and unscripted reality television so, I am portrayed just as I am. Because of this, if I didn't like the way I'm being portrayed on Shahs of Sunset then I would have no one to blame but myself. Interestingly enough, a very good way to gain another perspective on who you are, is to look at yourself when you watch your own reactions to situations on video; surprisingly therapeutic.
What are the benefits (gifts, opportunities, etc.) of being a reality star?
Being invited to different red carpet and events amongst other entertainment professionals is very cool. It reminds me of when I was younger, watching people on TV walking red carpets and taking pictures, and dreaming of being able to do that one day. Now through this experience, I am grateful to have the opportunity to live this dream on a daily basis. Getting the opportunity to be seen and heard internationally has also opened me up to other opportunities that otherwise wouldn't have been possible without access to this forum.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to be on reality TV?
My advice to someone that wants to be on reality TV is to be yourself. Don't do what you think they want to see and hear; do what you want and make sure they hear it. That assertive, opinionated approach is what the production teams wants to see, and know that the show will thrive off of it. It's slightly counter-intuitive, because naturally you formulate your own opinion on what they are looking for, then artificially expose them to just that. The production team can and will see right through that, so on the flip side, they quickly acknowledge and appreciate the raw version of you when it's expressed.
What has been the best part of being on Shahs of Sunset?
The best part of being on Shahs of Sunset is the experience. It's a lot of hard work and countless hours of filming, but at the end, I have partaken in something very few people will have the opportunity to do. Not only is it life altering, but we have had a lot of fun and laughs while filming with a great team, and all recorded on video to relive over and over. I have had a fun time letting fans see into an even deeper layer of what makes up Shervin "AlphaSherv" Roohparvar.