Get to know Nazanin Mandi, who stole the show at Rihanna’s Savage X Fenty show

Tune into We Should Talk every Thursday, where In The Know’s Gibson Johns interviews your favorite celebrities and influencers. Subscribe to We Should Talk here.

It’s time to get familiar with Nazanin Mandi.

The multi-hyphenate performer has been in the entertainment industry for going on two decades now, and she’s had a wild journey: From auditioning for the first season American Idol at the age of 15 in 2002 through appearing in Rihanna’s Savage X Fenty fashion show this past fall, Mandi has seen it all. And her star is undoubtedly on the rise.

For In The Know’s latest episode of We Should Talk, the 34-year-old actress reflected on the highs and lows of her career, opening up about channeling her struggles with depression and body dysmorphia into a newfound career as a life coach and what it’s been like navigating life in Hollywood alongside her husband, the singer Miguel.

“It’s really important to focus on the things that really matter. Not everything deserves your energy. It just doesn’t,” Mandi told ITK about what 2020 has taught her. “There are things that we worry about that won’t matter in a month, and this whole COVID experience has taught us that life is too short. People are losing their lives every day. Focus on what really matters in your life.”

Listen to Nazanin Mandi’s full episode of We Should Talk below, and keep reading for highlights from the interview:

On being in the Savage X Fenty show: “I really prepared for it, because there’s no Photoshop on camera. It is what it is. Also, the beauty of Savage X Fenty is, they’re not looking for perfection. [It’s all about,] ‘Come and feel your best self,’ of course, they want that energy and that confidence, but it’s not about perfection. That made things a lot easier for me. It very much frees you up, and it makes you even more confident, because you’re like, ‘I’m accepted any way I am.’ […] I never thought I would be walking in a lingerie show. Growing up, we saw the examples of a lingerie show and the body types it required. I was like, ‘That’s never going to be me. I’m 5’3″ and I don’t have that body.’ So, booking this was shocking, honestly.”

On her experience auditioning for American Idol: “I went out and auditioned for a little show called American Idol. Nobody knew what this show was going to be. […] I went, and I just kept making all the rounds. Again, nobody knew what this was. We knew that there were thousands of people outside going after the same thing, and I kept making it and making it and making it, and then I made it to Hollywood. My mom told me, because you had to be 16 and I was 15, ‘Look, they’re going to do background checks, and you’re probably going to be kicked off. I need you to mentally prepare for this, and we don’t know how they’re going to do it.’ So, I get to the top 35 out of all of those people, and it was during that round that they decided to do background checks. They all pulled me to the side — Paula, Randy and Simon — and they did this off camera and told me that I was disqualified because I lied about my age.”

On acting being her primary focus: “I do have a number one passion, which is acting. That’s what lights me up. It’s my passion, and I feel that deep inside. But, everything else that I do adds to it. You know? The life coaching and music… everything all together makes me so happy. It’s hard to choose just one, but my ultimate passion is acting. I knew it was [my No. 1 passion] because I was so afraid of it. I was so afraid of going full throttle with acting, and I was like, ‘This is my passion, I need to do this. I need to do this for myself, for my wellbeing.’ This is what I want to do, and I knew it.”

On her short-lived reality show, The Platinum Life: “Me doing that show was a very personal journey. That was actually the first thing that I did in a very long time that put myself out there and what I was doing at the time. It was really scary, to be honest. When I approached Miguel about it, he was like, ‘Absolutely not. We don’t do this. We don’t feel comfortable.’ And the network actually worked with us really well. We didn’t film in our house. We didn’t film anything personal. The producers, E! — they were great. Would I do it again? Absolutely not.”

Watch our full interview with Nazanin Mandi below:

If you enjoyed this article, check out In The Know’s recent interview with Bachelor expert Lauren Zima!

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