Zahra’s Story

Meet Zahra

  • Actress who has starred in several movies
  • Loves dancing, cooking, friends, family and her dog Koda
  • Believes in not taking life for granted and enjoying every minute
  • Condition: Freeman-Sheldon Syndrome

Born in Tehran, Zahra faced an immediate disadvantage, especially dealing with the lack of the complex early medical treatment needed for Freedman Sheldon Syndrome (aka. Whistling Face Syndrome). Unable to get quality care in Iran, her parents brought her to the United States and heartbreakingly gave her up for adoption to a wonderful “second mom” in America, named Carolyn, so Zahra could get the medical care she needed. Fortunately, she did, but it wasn’t an easy road.

Zahra’s early years meant feeding her through an eye dropper as an infant, a tracheotomy tube, dealing with clubbed feet and hands, braces, multiple surgeries, and eventually prosthetic legs. Yet through all that, she now lives on her own, has attended Jr. college, has officially become a U.S. citizen, and an actress.

She says her involvement with Courageous Faces Foundation has meant opportunities, friends, and experiences she never would have had on her own. The support and the ability to be totally accepted and celebrated as a special and valuable person has been life changing.

Things to Know About Me:

  • I am an actress and have been in several movies
  • I am a strong willed, healthy, intelligent woman
  • I indulge in good reality TV
  • My life is blessed, and I try to enjoy every second of life because I know that I am a miracle

Through the Courageous Faces Foundation:

  • I have had opportunities I would not otherwise have experienced
  • I have attended galas, workshops and conferences
  • I love the KitchenAid & culinary tools the Foundation provided for me
  • I met the amazing World Classic Rockers and got to sing with them on stage
  • I received support in multiple ways for my dog Koda when needed
  • I was supported & celebrated as I became a US citizen in 2017

Zahra’s Photos

Zahra’s Blog

Loves2dance32

Hello everyone!!! Sorry it has taken me some time to update you all on what I've been doing here in Tehran. As you all know I arrived in Tehran after flying 2 days. ✈️ ?? It was a loooooong flight. I landed in Tehran at 12:30 AM on October 7th. Went through customs and got my FIRST stamp in my passport!!! ???? I was sitting in a wheelchair waiting for one of the staff members to come up behind and push me but to my fortunate surprise it was MY DAD!! I was so excited to see him. We got back to his apartment and stayed up til 5 am. Over the next couple of days we spent time at a friends house just hanging out and enjoying each other's company. My dad took me to a town called Lavason. We went to this restaurant that is a favorite of his. It was so good. However the jet lag for me for the first 3-4 days was KILLER! The day after I arrived I took a nap at 1:00pm. Woke up at 5:00 and my dad made me my most favorite meal. I barely took 2 bites. I was not even the least bit hungry. I didn't feel well at all and I was EXHAUSTED. I fell asleep in his chair for an hour until he woke me up to go to my bed where I knocked out at 7:00pm and slept til about 7:00 am. The next day or so I was still pretty jet lagged. My appetite was still not fully there and I was still pretty tired. That night though I slept over 11.5 hours!!!! Holy heck did I feel soooo much better. Now I'm pretty much on track. My appetite is back and I'm not as sleepy as soon. My dads got me on a schedule which is a first for me since I stay up till 3 am at home and don't get up til about 2:00 pm. Hahahaha yeah yeah I know. I'm lazy. ?? Saturday was a day for us to just kick back and chill. We just hung out at home. We packed for our trip that we planned to take on Sunday which is now today. Today we got up at 6 am, got dressed, packed the car and started our 3 hour drive to The Caspian Sea. We stopped near a river along the way and had our breakfast. The view was breathtaking. Afterwards, we headed back onto the highway up into the mountains towards Caspian. We stopped once more and had tea. The view there was just as breathtaking. Finally, after 3.5 hours or so we arrived at this GORGEOUS villa way up high in the mountains. The villa belongs to one of my dads friends. They graciously have let us stay here as long as we'd like. It's so nice inside. Wood stairs, big balcony, amazing view from the balcony, a fire place where you have to get actual fire wood! Just nothing I've ever seen. Over the next few days here in the Caspian my dad plans to take me to some popular hot spots. There's a forest around where we are that he's going to take me to. We are going to have lunch there. So far I'm having a blast! It's still so weird for me to believe that I am on the other side of the world in my birth country with my dad. It's wild! I miss my dog and brother soooooo much. My friends as well. And also my own bed lol. But I'm making so many memories here. I'm so happy I get to spend this special time with my daddy!!! He's missed his little girl. ?? I'll try to update again when I can. I'm not always in a place where there is wifi so unless I'm at my dads or his friends house, I can't get online. Hope you guys enjoy following me on my journey!!!! ☺️ Thank you again.

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Loves2dance32

My journey to Tehran has officially begun! I departed yesterday at 6:45pm from lax and flew all into the night til 3:pm where I have landed in Frankfurt, Germany!!!! The flight was very nice. Probably the smoothest take off and landing I've ever experienced. International flights are so dope! I watched like 4 movies, listened to some music and tried to sleep as much as possible. I'm soooo glad to be off that plane though. For now anyways. Now I'm just chillin in the airport in Frankfurt and waiting for my connecting flight. I can't believe I'm here!!!!! In Germany. I never imagined I'd get to travel like this. It's beyond my expectations. I'll keep updated as I'm capable too.

Loves2dance32

Thank you!

Staff@SPSNFoundation

Have fun on your trip and be safe! Can't wait to hear all about your adventures!

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Loves2dance32

I want share something that has been bothering me. I'm not looking to start any fights or debates. Just wanting to express my feelings on a subject that bothers me. I'm purely speaking from my personal perspective. My upcoming trip to Tehran has inspired me to write this post. As most of you know I am from another country. I am from Tehran, Iran which of course is in the Middle East. I came here as a child for medical reasons and have been here since. Both my parents are born and raised in the Middle East. My mom now lives here in the U.S. and is now a resident of the state. I'm so happy for that. There is SOOOOO much negative stigmas attached to that particular country. I realize that every country has their stigmas but I'm specifically speaking about the country that I am from. I hate that the September 11th attack on our country has magnetized a certain stigma. The stigma around the fact that all if not most Middle Easterns from Tehran are terrorists. This is simply not true. Yes, the terrorists were from a middle eastern country but they weren't from Tehran. They were from Afghanistan. People say "same thing." Actually no, it's NOT the same thing. It's an ENTIRELY different country and different culture. Hearing that response angers me to my core. ?. It's such an ignorant statement. In a little over two weeks I will be embarking on a trip to my home county for the FIRST time since coming to the states as a child. I'll be visiting my dad whom I haven't seen in 12 years. I couldn't be more excited!!!!!! I am so over joyed that I'll get to experience where I came from, especially getting to experience it with my dad. A native resident of the country. My best frieMegan Rifeeee made an excellent point. She told me that I will not only get to experience my county of birth, but I will get to experience it in a more personal way since my dad lives there and has most of his life. I won't be experiencing it in the typical "touristy" type of way. She's absolutely right! I never thought about that but it's so spot on. Ever since I learned I was going, I've told everyone that would listen. ???. I'm generally a chatty Kathy as most people know but I've been one more so since learning of this trip. I've gotten a LOT of mixed reviews. My friends have been INCREDIBLY supportive when hearing of my trip. They are so excited for me to get to have this once in a lifetime opportunity. Some family members have had some reservations regarding this trip. I'd like to think they are happy for me. I know they are worried for me and I naturally would expect that. I absolutely understand being worried for me about the normal things. Flying alone, staying the duration that I'm staying and even just being worried about being in another country in GENERAL. Not because of the specific country. But naturally I've gotten most of the negative responses from strangers. A couple weeks ago I went into Target to look for an outlet adapter. The lady asked where I was going. Without hesitation I replied with Tehran. IMMEDIATELY her demeanor changed. She replied "oh. Are you sure you want to go there?" I said "yes I'm sure. I'm very excited actually." She then said "well good luck. I'll pray for you." As nice as that sounds, I took it offensively. These are the type of reactions I'm so tired of. Why can't people just not say anything at all. I guarantee that if I said Tahiti, I'd have gotten a much different reaction. But because it's a middle eastern country, suddenly it's not so appealing or exciting. I feel that people are being judge mental due to the media portrayal about a place that I come from. It's reactions like these that make me feel ashamed of saying I'm from Tehran. I know I should never be ashamed of where I'm from but truthfully there are times when I am. I wish people could learn to open up their mind and eyes and educate themselves on things. Tehran is a BEAUTIFUL country!!! Does it have its bad parts? Of course. ALL PLACES DO. I've learned so much about my country from my parents in the last 6 months of learning I was taking this trip. Next time you say something, please take the time to stop and THINK how what you say could make someone feel. When you speak negatively about my country, you are speaking negatively about my parents and me. Keep that in mind. Again, this is MY own thoughts and opinions and what I live with.

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Loves2dance32

I can't believe that in 21 days, I will be getting on a plane and embarking on my 6 week long trip. Seems like just yesterday, my dad and I were discussing whether or not I would be getting to come there. Now, it's about to become real!! It's crazy how your mind works when you are nervous about something. Lately I have been having bad dreams about my trip. In one of the dreams, I dreamt that I ALMOST missed my flight. I barely made it onto he plane. In my dream last night, I dreamt that I didn't have ANY of my luggage or my passport. People tell me that it's pretty normal to start having these types of dreams when something big is about to happen. I'm hoping that as the trip gets closer, I'll start having happier dreams. Thankfully though I am pretty much ready. I've purchased most everything that I needed and wanted to. With the exception of my personal items such as shampoo, body wash etc. I'm going to wait til a few days before to buy that stuff. Not having a car for almost a month and a half, its been super difficult to get out to get stuff done. But my brothers friend nicely took me out around town for a whole day so I could at least get some shopping started. I was actually able to get 90% of my shopping finished in that one day. Got some clothes, makeup, shoes, passport holder, purse, wallet, scarfs, neck pillow for the plane ride, a throw blanket and video camera. So I'm pretty much set!!!! Packing will be a chore!! I've never had to pack for a trip as big as the one i'll be taking. I've already told my brother that I will be needing his help...hahahah. I've slowly been seeing people before I take off. I know that I will be returning, but it's still very important that I hang out with some people before I leave. Alright well I think I have caught everyone up on what's been going on. The next time I post, I will most likely be a week to a few days out. Thanks everyone for caring and taking the time to read.

Loves2dance32

I am going to Tehran. I decided to go for that long because I feel like it's more than enough time to see lots of things. Plus I'll probably never get this opportunity to go visit there again.

Staff@SPSNFoundation

Sounds like your going to have fun on your trip! Where are you going and why so long?

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Loves2dance32

As you all know from reading my story above, I filmed a horror movie. Its been in post production since we wrapped in October. We should be having a premiere party any time now. I was hoping it was going to be sooner than it has been. You don't realize how long it takes for a movie to be completed. I am just hoping that the premiere of my FIRST movie of my acting career won't be happening while I'm away over seas. It would be such a major shame if I missed it. As far as my acting career goes, its been VERY SLOW and nearly non existent right now. It's making me sad and discouraged. Am I meant to be an actress? Am I being impatient? Unrealistic about how things should happen? This business has tested my patience. I have a hard time waiting for things as it is, and want things to just happen. I feel like sometimes I bug and pester my agent with questions about whether or not she has any leads for me as far as jobs or auditions go. I'm pretty certain that I'm probably her only client to constantly asks. She just tells me to be patient and says that this is a rough business. I get that. It's very true. But I guess I just hoped that I'd have a little more auditions. Even if I don't get the jobs, I want to be auditioning..getting my face out there to casting agents. How will casting agents know who I am if I'm not going on auditions? But then again, how can I go on auditions if there are NONE to go on???? Ugh its such a vicious cycle. I hate this. I hate that it makes me question my ability. I KNOW I'm good at what I do. I am constantly told this. While I was filming The Horde, EVERYONE was telling me what an AMAZING actress I was. No one believed that I had never done this before. So if I'm as good as everyone says I am, why am I not getting work? I'm hoping once this movie comes out (which will hopefully be next year) that I'll get more work. That's what I keep holding on to. This movie is going to EPIC!!! Can't wait for everyone to see it and see me do what I love!!! On another note, I guess its a a good thing I'm not having any auditions. My brothers car is out of commission and don't know when he will be getting it back. I live 2 hours away from LA where all my auditions are always located and putting all those miles on his car that is older doesn't help any. I wish I had a person driver to take me to auditions. Hahahaha. That will make life so much easier. I'm also worried that it will get to a point where I'll have to stop acting altogether because of not having ways to get there. That thought makes me very sad because I haven't gotten to show the world who I am yet. I wanna do this for the long haul. Just don't know how and if it will be possible. :'(

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Loves2dance32

The planning stages Hello SPSNFoundation world. Welcome to my very first blog. Here I will be sharing my journey of my trip overseas to my place of birth Tehran, Iran that I will embark on starting in October. I will be gone a month and a half. I’ll be sharing the planning of the trip, to the actual flight and journey of getting there, to what I’m doing while there, my journey home, and finally share my experience of me going there when I enter back into the U.S. As I stated above, I was born there. I came to the states as a baby and have never been back. Most of my life I’ve always said I wanted to go back and visit where I was born. Get an idea of my roots. See where I come from. Finally after many years I finally get to have that experience. I will get to see my dad whom I haven’t seen in 12 years. I’m not sure what I’m more excited about. Seeing my dad and getting to bond with him, or going to my home. I’m pretty much set for the trip. I’ve got all the clothes I need. Women there have to cover themselves. Wear long sleeves and pants. So in that regard I’m set. Luggage is bought. Now I have to just get little things like my personal items and such. For now I will close this. But stay tuned for more updates!!! ?

Staff@SPSNFoundation

Welcome to Special People Special Needs Foundation. We are honored to have you as one of our Faces of the Foundation.

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