…Inside of the movie business, I would say inspiring hope, dreams and a positive future is what drives me to do what I do. If we are talking outside of movie-making, I would say if we can end all racism, all hate, and all loathing of other humans (which even animals don’t do) and focus on progress, curing diseases, traveling into the stars and expand the human race as a powerful, loving entity. That is my dream for all of us. We are only here for a short amount of time, why even bother with negativity and hate? What does it really do? … Nothing good.
As a part of our series about pop culture’s rising stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Shahin (Sean) Solimon.
Recognized as the world’s first Persian-American actor to play ‘Sinbad the Sailor’ in Sinbad the Fifth Voyage, an American made film. Shahin (Sean) Solimon, born Shahin Solimonpoor, was blessed to have experienced two separate cultures growing up, and understood the beauty of both. He is of Persian heritage but was brought up in Tampa, Florida. Since the tender age of six, was raised by an adopted American family, up until the age of twelve. His American father (George), a very intelligent family man, and a well-respected professor at USFL in the field of film/television. Teaching Shahin a great deal, not just in the arts, but also in Western culture, hard work, life, etc. Eventually, Shahin’s biological mother, a well known Persian pop star known as, Fataneh, was able to finally migrate to the US and leave the Iran revolution of 1978, and reunite with her son. The family eventually moved to Hollywood, California. Where she pursued her own dreams of a successful solo singing career. Having this unique experience and view of the world, brought Shahin closer in realizing his dreams as a creator, writer, director and actor. He eventually studied filmmaking and soon after, wrote, performed in, and produced several projects, and is actively developing new material.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
You are very welcome and thank you so much for having me.
I have always been connected to a camera or writing a story of some sort from the very beginning. Always fascinated with myth and sci-fi, my biological mom who is a well-known singer, she really pushed my creativity to blossom by not forcing me to take a traditional route, career wise, she aloud me to explore what I wanted to do with my life, organically, and that is, of course, making movies.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
The first few years after college I tried to shy away from the entertainment business, thinking there is no way in hell I will get anything but small roles. I am one of those people who loves to continue to grow, and learn. A few years of other career choices and being a father by that time, i did not want to risk something that I was not sure about. However, it slowly dawned on me that I really should try it. I had also established myself by this time in life. Therefore, I took some workshops and decided that I would always have the choice to bow out if I got cold feet at anytime. Therefore, I wrote my first script and decided to do a test shoot. After that, let’s just say, it was confirmed that I was designed for this. So there you have it, as much as I tried to ignore filmmaking, it came to me, haha.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
I would say the most interesting is, after I wrote my first script we planned to shoot a test with a DV camcorder (the old ones with Hi-8 tapes). I also did not want to act. However, the people that were going to help o the project, suggested we shoot a test in costume and decide, I agreed. Because I knew the role and fit the character. Then it was suggested that we should maybe shoot on a pro camera, and just rent it for a weekend. So we shot the test, everyone was very impressed and at that time it’s safe to say i started my acting career. Again, I tried to shy away, but it pulled me in. I will add that I did act in plays as a kid, and took a theater class in college. A small known fact is that I was also a ‘break-dancer’ in my early teens, had done a few commercials and performed in a few large audience venues, and was comfortable with performing but had long given it up. Acting is also second nature to me. It’s very efficient to act in a movie you know so well.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Yes, you should always work with people who have your best interest and are well versed in the business. I am very trusting, and I am sure anyone can say this, but my easy trust has backfired a few times. It’s a learning process, and I try to go with my best instinct. So far, it has served me well and I have learned much from any mistakes. I feel comfortable moving forward and would like to give the world more of my imagination and contributions to the arts.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I am working on a few concepts in sci-fi, horror, and fantasy.
We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?
I am 150% all about diversity; in fact if you notice in Sinbad the Fifth Voyage, there is a scene with a Genie who was played by several characters. In this scene, each one of them is from a different background and from all across the World. It was very exciting to be able to act with these three guys and represent the nationalities, including myself as a Persian-American. I feel it is VERY important to represent all cultures and ethnicities. In my opinion, we all live on one big rock called Earth, and like it or not, at some point in the future we will be called ‘Earthians’ and your geographical location and physical characteristics will be secondary and/or will have nothing to do with who you are as a person.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
Hmmm, this one is tough for me, because I feel the Universe takes us all on a path of discovery, it’s trial and error and a learning process. If you stick with it, put in the work, learn from your mistakes and have a good/true heart it will always correct itself. Therefore, at this time I cannot think of any mistakes I can list, of course, the hind site is always 20/20. Wait, there is one, I wish I would have started with a bigger budget on all my films. I have so much more to add in all of them, Haha!
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
I would say, make sure to ask yourself if you are REALLY cut out for this. Because it is a ton of work and many landmines out there that can trip you up. Can you wake up every day after grueling twelve-month post-production and still be excited to get back in there and finish a project, when there are no guarantees? If you can clearly answer, ‘yes’ you are good to go!
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Inside of the movie business, I would say inspiring hope, dreams and a positive future is what drives me to do what I do. If we are talking outside of movie-making, I would say if we can end all racism, all hate, and all loathing of other humans (which even animals don’t do) and focus on progress, curing diseases, traveling into the stars and expand the human race as a powerful, loving entity. That is my dream for all of us. We are only here for a short amount of time, why even bother with negativity and hate? What does it really do? … Nothing good.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Yes, I would have to honestly first give that credit to my mother for allowing me to experience life, my American Family who taught me so much as a foreign child in a typical USA household. In addition, my daughter who never once questioned my decisions, even though we have had our share of difficulties like any family, but especially one that is public, which I am sure anyone in the public eye can attest to. Finally, I must give thanks to Sir Patrick Stewart for giving me the opportunity to direct his voice, allowing me to be supercharged with my creativity. It is an honor to have learned and worked with him, even for a tiny portion of time. I am very much looking forward to working with him again. In fact, I have a special script that I penned with him in mind; I will have to send to his people.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Life is inherently risky. There is only one big risk you should avoid at all costs, and that is the risk of doing nothing.” ―Denis Waitley
I used to get an empty pit in my stomach when I would just ‘tread water’ as a youngster in my late teens. I realized because I had no goal, or I was hiding from my goals in life. Then I decided to take action and do something about it.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
I would love to have breakfast or lunch with Steven Spielberg because the very first blockbusters were made by him, his movies coined that word. To this day, I still see them as the best of all time. I would also like to work with him, offer my creativity and skill in any way I can. That would be a dream come true. I feel like a have a billion-dollar project within in me, and will do what it takes to make that a reality.
How can our readers follow you online?
Best place would be: Facebook.com/shahinsolimon
This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!