Homa Sarshar is a published author and an award-winning journalist, writer, media personality and lecturer. She is the author of two books and editor of twelve other volumes, including five volumes of the Iranian Women’s Studies Foundation Journal and four volumes of The History of Contemporary Iranian Jews. Her book Shaban Jafari was the number one best seller Persian book in Iran and abroad in 2003.
Homa Sarshar was as a correspondent, a reporter and a columnist for Zan-e ruz weekly magazine and Kayhan daily newspaper in Iran, where she also worked as a television producer, director, and talk-show host of National Iranian Radio & Television from 1964 to 1978. In 1978, Sarshar moved to Los Angeles where she resumed her career as a freelance journalist, radio and television producer, and on-air host. Since 1998, Sarshar has been working with a satellite television network in the United States as a writer, producer, and host of numerous programs. Her show is broadcast weekly throughout the United States, Europe, and Iran.
In 1995, Homa Sarshar founded the Center for Iranian Jewish Oral History in Los Angeles, an organization that has succeeded in collecting a wealth of information and documentation about the life and history of Jews in Iran.
Throughout her 40 year career with Iranian print, radio, and television, Sarshar has conducted more than 1500 interviews and has produced and anchored as many radio and television programs. She has also produced a collection of twenty video documentaries on exiled Iranian writers, poets, and artists, some of which has been acquired by the Library of Congress.
Sarshar has received numerous awards for her work, including the Medal for Special Achievement in Women’s Rights, awarded by The Iranian Women’s Organization of Tehran, Iran; Journalism Award: Distinguished Iranian Women by The Encyclopaedia Iranica, and Commendation for community affairs services by County of Los Angeles.
Homa Sarshar has dedicated much of her life to various philanthropic ventures and has actively campaigned for human rights and women’s rights issues.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Homa Sarshar recently.
What is your background and education?
I was born in Shiraz on 1946 and raised in Tehran. I earned a BA degree in French literature from Tehran University, a Master’s Degree in journalism from the Annenberg School of Communications at the University of Southern California, and an honorary Ph.D. degree in journalism from American World University.
What drew you to journalism?
Actually it happened by accident. A classmate at the Meli University in Tehran told me about an opportunity at Zan-e Ruz magazine. The weekly magazine was looking for translators. I spoke French so I started working as a translator and later wrote articles for them. I became interested in journalism and decided to pursue it as a profession.
Tell our readers about the Center for Iranian Creative Arts.
This non-profit center replaced the Center for Iranian Jewish Oral History, where we conducted interviews, produced films and documentaries and published books. When we completed the 10 year project we decided to change the mission statement to support and train artists who need assistance and promote them in their artistic endeavors.
Congratulations on receiving the prestigious Ellis Island Medal of Honor.
I didn’t know I had been nominated. A former recipient of the Ellis Island Medal nominated me. The nomination committee reviewed my resume and work history. I was very surprised when I received a letter congratulating me for being one of the Medal’s recipients.
What advice do you have for young adults?
My advice is to work hard, aim high, stay focused and have a goal. The U.S. is a land of opportunity, where you can succeed if you work hard and have the patience and persistence to follow your goals.
You can contact Homa Sarshar at Homa@HomaSarshar.com or her Facebook page (facebook.com/pages/Homa- Sarshar)