Childhood & Early Life
Sarah Shahi was born on January 10, 1980 in Euless, Texas, to Abbas Jahansouz Shahi and Mah Monir Soroush Azar. While her father was from Iran, her mother was an Iranian-Spanish born in Spain. Sarah has an elder brother Cyrus and an older sister Samantha.
Sarah was named Aahoo which means ‘gazelle’ in Persian. It was in the second grade that she changed her name to Sarah after a song. The name change was a conscious decision as she was ridiculed by her friends. Sarag was ten when her parents divorced.
She gained her early education from Trinity High School and later attended Southern Methodist University, where she majored in English and Theatre. While at school, she was great in sports.
It was in school that she was bitten by the modelling bug. Her parents took her to beauty pageants when she was just eight. In 1997, she went on to win the Miss Fort Worth pageant.
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Sarah Shahi aspired to become an actress and joined the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders squad in 1999. Following year, she featured in the cover of the squad’s calendar.
It was while working as an extra in ‘Dr T and the Women’ in Texas that she met director Robert Altman, who suggested her to move to Hollywood. She then moved to Los Angeles where she received supporting roles in a number of television series including ‘City Guys’, ‘Spin City, ‘Boston Public’, Off Centre’ and so on.
Between 2001 and 2002, she essayed the role of Jenny in the television series ‘Alias’ for seven episodes. She also took up guest roles in other popular sitcoms such as ‘Dawson’s Creek’, ‘Reba’, ‘ER’, ‘Frasier’, ‘Century City’ and ‘Supernatural’.
In 2003, her film career took off as she bagged her first credited role as Erica in ‘Old School’. From thene on, she featured in a lot of films such as ‘A Lot Like Love’, ‘For Your Consideration’, ‘Rush Hour 3’, ‘Shades of Ray’, ‘Crossing Over’, ‘AmericanEast’ and so on.
In 2005, she bagged the role of DJ Carmen de la Pica Morales in ‘The L Word’. Having signed a two-year contract, she played her character until 2007. Meanwhile, she took up some guest roles in several television series including ‘Sleeper Cell’, HBO’s ‘The Sopranos’ and ‘Kennedy and Heidi’
Sarah Shahi got the big breakthrough of her career when she bagged a lead role in the NBC television series ‘Life’, co-starring with Damian Lewis. In it, she played the character of homicide detective Dani Reese. The series ran for two seasons before going off-air.
In 2009, she landed the lead role in the USA Network pilot, ‘Facing Kate’, later known as ‘Fairly Legal’. The show followed the life of Kate, a legal mediator who is annoyed with the bureaucracy and injustice present in the legal system. The show was cancelled after two seasons.
In 2012, she featured as the love interest of Lt. Kelly Severide on the NBC show ‘Chicago Fire’. She then featured as Sameen Shaw in ‘Person of Interest’. While she made guest appearances in season 2, from season 3 she became a regular at the show. Other than this, she did guest roles in popular television series including ‘Relevance’, ‘Ray Donovan’ and ‘Pitch’. Sarah Shahi also starred in the films, ‘Static’ and Bullet to Head’.
Coming back from her maternity break, she was cast as iconic detective Nancy Drew in a planned TV series based on the book series of the same name. However, the show did not hit the screens. At the same time, she continued her appearances as Sameen Shaw on ‘Person of Interest’ till the show ended in June 2016.
Currently, Sarah Shahi stars in ‘Michael Bolton's Big, Sexy Valentine's Day Special’ and in NBC television series ‘Reverie’.
NBC television series ‘Life’ maybe the big ticket to success for Sarah Shahi’s career graph as it helped her bag her first lead role, but her acting career has more milestones than just that.
The most iconic role that she played was in 2005 as DJ Carmen de la Pica Morales in ‘The L Word’. Interestingly, unsure of whether to take up the project or not, today, Shahi deems it as her best played role. For the role she had to play the character of a lesbian and indulge in lovemaking scenes with other women. She was apprehensive of the demands that the role made initially but with time, realized that it was the biggest opportunity to display her talent. She now considers it as her dream role and also ranks it amongst her best done work.
Personal Life & Legacy
Sarah Shahi married actor Steve Howey on February 7, 2009 in Las Vegas, US. The two had been dating each other since six years and were formally engaged for about twenty months.
In 2009, the couple welcomed their first son William Wolf Howey. In March 2015, she was blessed with twins, daughter Violet and son Knox Blue.