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Iranian Jewish Life in Los Angeles: Past and Present

Saba Soomekh, Author

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Tina Hay: Identity as a Persian Woman

“Passion is key and that’s how people recognize you beyond the gender roles.”

Tina spoke about her experience being a Persian woman in a highly male-dominated workforce and said that although she deals with a lot of pressure, she finds that some of the male counterparts in her life are her biggest mentors. She explained that the hardest part of launching a business as a woman is raising the money and enhancing her network to get recognition. However, she still feels that she is very lucky because she has made a product that people like and even love.

She explained that passion is the key in getting recognized beyond gender roles. While she has witnessed the advantages that men enjoy in her industry, she tries to utilize her strengths and find creative ways to get her company ahead. She also spoke about the influence of her Persian culture on her personality, and the fact that as a Persian woman, she tends to be soft spoken. In contrast with the dominant attitudes of most people in her field of work, she finds that she is not as harsh and abrasive, and takes other people’s feelings into consideration, which is not the norm. Despite being the odd one out, Tina stays true to who she is and tries to do the best she can, for herself and for her business.
We also asked Tina how she would describe her identity and whether she identifies as more Persian or more American. She answered, “I identify as an Americanized Persian. In the present day, a lot of Persians have married non-Persians. This includes my family that is predominantly non-Persian, so family members who did not follow the typical path have influenced me. My [multi-dimensional] identity is not something that makes me different, but rather interesting and unique.”

“It feels like you won the lottery when people like your project. I take my life day by day. Whatever path is for me is in the hands of the universe. Some of the hardest things in my life have been the best things that ever happened to me. I have a feeling good things come to you when you are open to it and not fighting it.” 

One person who inspired Tina tremendously was her cousin. She believes that he shaped her into the woman she is today. With tears in her eyes, she shared that he was adventurous, smart, and lived his life outside of the box. Tina described his energy as so contagious that he would encourage others to pursue their own dreams. Sadly, he passed away, but his legacy and energy still live on today and continue to motivate Tina to step outside her comfort zone. Tina also looks to her two young nieces and one nephew for inspiration. Her reason for doing so is that they have no expectations for life - they just live. This is inspiring and beautiful to Tina, because sometimes, as adults, we live life on autopilot. We forget that we are the creators of our own lives. If we live life in the present moment, there is no room for fear. Her inspirations are rooted in the support of her family.
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