Iranian | Irish

Patrick Niknejad.jpg

When I was younger because of my agent I used to audition for lots of middle eastern roles, Saddam Hussein dramas and all that kind of stuff. That's all I got put forward for. Roles those were non-white, non-British. I felt really inadequate because I don’t speak Arabic, I don’t speak Farsi and I don’t really do any of those accents. When I went to drama school I decided to change my surname because it felt like to look at it doesn’t really reflect who I am visually and so much of the work is about your appearance. Now I just audition for white British parts. I think that maybe my surname is a red herring and would rule me out of certain things. Or I think it would have five or ten years ago. Things are changing now , there's more openness to ‘intersectionality’ that actually we are at the crossover of lots of different things, all of us as human beings. Just because your surname is one thing, doesn’t mean you are just that thing either. 5/10 years ago I felt that I had to change it as it was labeling me with something that I couldn’t connect to in any way. I had a massive argument with my brother who said I shouldn’t change it. It was a business decision really and maybe now I wouldn’t make the same decision I don’t know.  I tick the ‘mixed other’ box when I have to as I don’t know what else to put. I don’t know whether I fall under the mixed-race category. I don’t think I’ve ever called myself mixed-race but I know that ethnically I am a mix of different things. I do like it. I think it is a positive thing. My ex once said to me about my parents, oh your mum must have been really brave to marry an Iranian in the 1980s. I wonder what her parent’s thought of it. I had never really thought about that, never really considered that a thing. That interracial or interethnic marriages were a thing because I had grown up in one and didn’t think it was unusual. So that is a positive thing. Growing up in London, in my school, there were people from all over the place. That was just a given. That there were Polish people, people with mixed-race African heritage. I didn’t feel in any way conspicuous. So yeah, I’ve never felt very ‘other’ because of it.