We had the good fortune of connecting with Bita Arefnia and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Bita, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Everything that I get to do in my life has been based off of taking risks. I was born and raised in a small town in Austria to two Persian parents who took risks by moving to Austria in the first place. They showed me how important it is to trust the process and know that everything happens for a reason. I took the risk of leaving my small town and my small country in general to pursue my career in the entertainment and film industry in the United States. That risk motivated me to study at the New York Film Academy at their New York and their Los Angeles campuses. I completed my Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting for Film and am currently enrolled in the Master of Fine Arts program for Film and TV production at the University of Southern California.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
As a young Persian woman growing up in a small town in Austria, I had struggles identifying myself. Not because many people would question me on it, but because I thought I had to find a box to fit in. I never fitted in anywhere. I was always too loud, too weird, too open minded, too individual etc. The only place that I felt truly accepted in was the theatre. Whether it was acting, dancing, singing, any kind of performance, I loved being on stage. Coming to America I really had to learn what it meant being in front of the camera. On stage it was easy for me to not care what others thought of me or if they liked my performance. The camera is more intimate and watching back footage is part of it as well. I had to get over the feeling of hating the sound of my voice and the way my face was asymmetrical. I had to learn to embrace myself fully. With all my imperfections because that makes me unique and makes me stand out. I believe I have a lot of stories to tell and stories I want more people to see that represent the Middle East in a human and beautiful light. I have also gone through a lot of changes in size over the years. Most recently due to the pandemic. I have realized that I don’t need to be a certain size and weight to fit into the industry. As an actor or as a filmmaker. People come in all shapes and sizes, what really matters is the stories they tell and what personality you bring to it.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Day 1: I would have breakfast at Paty’s in Toluca Lake/Burbank area. Then book a Warner Bros. Studio Tour. Afterwards I would check out the Smoke House, they sometimes have great lunch deals and they’re food is delicious. Maybe catch a movie at El Capitan or watch a musical at the Pantages.
Day 2: Put an entire day (or even two) aside to visit Disneyland, Universal Studios or Six Flags.
Day 3: Have brunch at Blu Jam Cafe either Melrose or Sherman Oaks location are amazing. Then spend the day in Venice and Santa Monica. Visiting the Venice Canals, walking from Venice to Santa Monica on the beach itself and checking out the Santa Monica Pier. Getting some funnel cake and then eating some good food at Flower Child. If the weather is warm I’d also take a dip in to the water and have a relaxing time.
Day 4: Malibu is one of my favorite places in all of the LA area. I’d go to the Malibu Pier and have a good breakfast/brunch at Malibu Farm, take pictures, chill on the beach itself, check out the Malibu Mall right across the street from the pier. Later in the afternoon before the sun sets, I would go on a hike in Topanga before heading home.
Day 5: I’m a huge Potterhead. I would get coffee and breakfast at Nimbus Cafe in Downtown LA, go to the Last Bookstore, get a PB&J from the Grand Central Market and get drinks at a Rooftop Bar like Spire 73. If in the mood for shopping I’d check out the Westfield Mall in Century City.
Day 6: For breakfast I’d go to Republic of Pies before heading out to LACMA. From there I’d stop by the Grove, Rodeo Drive, have ice cream at Sprinkles Cupcakes, stroll on Melrose Avenue and have drinks at the Abbey.
Day 7: I would call this the Persian Day. I’d spent the entire day in Persian Square in Westwood. Get Persian Pizza, Kababs, Saffron Ice cream and lots of tea and pastries to fulfill the happy food coma dream.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My family definitely are my rock. They have supported me through all the ups and downs and continue to do so. As does my boyfriend Matthew Harper-Johnston. Having someone so close to me that knows the ins and outs of the entertainment business and being able to work together on projects is something incredible and special. My friends from all the around the world have helped me stay motivated and encouraged me throughout my journey to be myself and trusted that I would find my way through anything. My best friend Milica Jakovljevic is my soul sister. She is my biggest fan and I am hers.
Forrest Leo Thom Myer GRT