Fans of Bravo’s Shahs of Sunset know that the drama has been kicked up a couple of notches during the current third season. With two new episodes alone this week, the show that follows a group of Persian-Americans living in Los Angeles tackled both serious and lighthearted cultural issues from homophobia to binge-eating Cheetos. EW talked with cast member and spiritual gangster Asa Soltan Rahmati about the crazy and transformative third season.
“I absolutely love Season 3. It’s pretty much absolutely hectic,” Asa told EW. “There’s a lot of things that are going to be unfolding that’s really, really exciting. This season is so real and it gets more real and raw as we go on. And for me personally, a couple of extremely life-changing things happen for me.”
Three life-changing things to be exact. First, Asa finally launched her business baby Diamond Water, a brand of diamond-infused alkaline bottled water. “If I’m going to create something, I want to create something to better the world.” Asa hopes to one day see Diamond Water in every Whole Foods, spa, yoga studio, and more, while already having distribution interests from 10 different countries. “I want to put out positive things and just the things we need as humans, and what’s more important than water?” Fans will also get to see Asa’s first art show, a very personal live video installation inspired by her childhood that may soon travel to galleries in Berlin and Paris. But nothing was as cathartic as the trip Asa took with the rest of the cast to Turkey, reuniting with members of her family for the first time in 30 years. After a chance encounter in their hotel lobby, Asa and Reza were also given the opportunity to visit the highly dangerous Iranian border.
“Literally, our cameras were confiscated. Half of it was filmed on our iPhones, but it’s all on the show. It’s crazy!” After a plane ride, two buses, and a walk, Asa recalls being told to look out for Iranian snipers on top of towers because they would potentially shoot if they saw them. “It was a very serious situation.” Asa said the brief moment you see of the trip from the show’s trailer doesn’t even begin to describe what the entire journey was like, but she was apprehensive to reveal any more.
This week, the show saw Asa and cast members Mike, GG, and Lilly participating in the L.A. Gay Pride parade on a Persian-themed float, strongly and proudly making a statement to the rest of their culture. “Unfortunately and fortunately, our culture is really, really old school. What that means is that it has been the same for thousands of years. I think people that are homophobic, obviously it’s disgusting, but they don’t know better. We now live in a world where we are introduced to new culture and new people. Our parents have done a great job of being more open to the way the world is now and being more accepting, and I think homophobia is still something, sadly, that is big in our culture and in all old-school cultures. But I think we are getting there. The fact that we were on that float and a part of it, don’t forget this is on TV. Millions of people see this and they see our support and that hopefully does something for people to open their eyes.”
The float was for Club Nur, a Persian-themed gay club that Mike took the gang to, thinking it would help Reza meet more people like him, a.k.a. gay and Persian. What resulted was a giant fight between Reza and his neighbor Sasha, resulting in Reza calling Sasha’s brother the “F” word.
“It’s very, very complex,” Asa says of Reza’s behavior. “The things he has to deal with that he still hasn’t processed are still inside him. And it doesn’t excuse that he said that word. We all agree that it was a mistake. But people have to understand that we are on a show and Reza is raw, whether they like it in a good way, they have to understand that he could be raw and say something they don’t like. They have to allow for the unfolding of the emotional process. He’s older than Sasha. When he came out, it was not cool back then. It was not cool to come out in the ’80s as an Iranian gay guy. I just wish people would be a little more compassionate here.”
Compassion always seems to be coming from Asa. “I truly believe that the way you live your life and what you put out there comes back to you. I think that being negative is just pointless.” That’s why Asa is very careful about what she reveals and doesn’t reveal on the show, all while remaining 100 percent real. “In reality TV, people throw around the term ‘real’ like it’s nothing. But first let’s make sure we define realness and we define fake.”
Asa opened up last season and revealed she was in a serious long-term relationship with Jermaine Jackson Jr., who only appeared briefly on one episode of the show. And that’s exactly how Asa likes it. “My relationship is just something I keep sacred, and that’s important in this world. Some things you just keep to yourself, you keep private. I don’t need to share every aspect of my life. Jermaine is very private and doesn’t want to be on TV, and not only do I understand it, I kind of dig it this way too.”
With her “anything goes” attitude toward fashion, Asa believes there are some misconceptions about her from the show and makes it clear she is far from the granola hippie type that some people think. “By the time I was 15, I had lived on three continents, three cultures, three languages, three religions. So thankfully I learned very early on that there is no normal. Normal is what you are. There is no one standard and everyone has to be like that. You learn that the way you are is OK, and everyone is different and that’s beautiful.”
Later in the season, Asa will try to help GG with her anger problems (“Golnesa is a nice girl and has a nice heart, but she will get triggered very easy, and I think that’s her problem”) but doesn’t seem to be in any rush to patch things up with Lilly, after she accused Asa of being a bad friend for not defending her against MJ at the dinner party from hell. “That was kind of bullsh–. I don’t like to be in drama by myself, and I definitely don’t want to be in anyone else’s BS drama. You can ask anyone there that night. That night didn’t have to do with anything else except MJ and Lilly fighting like that.” Asa literally found herself in the middle of the fight and, with a slice of truffle pizza in hand, she kept quiet. ”There’s BS drama on one side and truffle pizza on the other side. Which side would you choose? Truffle pizza wins every time, I’m sorry.”
With a thriving new business launched and relationships with family and friends at their best, Asa says she is in the best place in her life.
“What more could a priestess want?”