By Grace Nasri, Iran Times
Behnoosh Khalili is a major Iranian-American figure in Hollywood who is little known outside the industry. But inside the industry, she is well-known for running the firm that finds actors for all those small roles in films.
Khalili, 31, was born and raised in the small Midwestern city of Olathe, Kansas. Her parents had immigrated to the United States during the 1979 revolution. Both had completed science-based master's degrees and took up jobs in chemistry when they emigrated. Her mother worked as a chemist while her father established his own chemical manufacturing company. Khalili's older brother, following the scientific background of his parents, attended medical school and became a doctor.
Behnoosh, however, marched to a different drummer and got her bachelor's in journalism with a minor in French in 1998 from the University of Kansas-where she worked as the editor of the yearbook and earned a paid internship in Los Angeles for the television industry trade magazine, Electronic Media.
Through the contacts she made, Khalili next landed a job as an associate editor at Back Stage West, a trade newspaper for actors in Los Angeles. As an associate editor there, Khalili interviewed actors regarding their craft, wrote theater reviews, and drafted analytical industry trend articles. Khalili was also the editor of the audition listings for the newspaper.
In June 2001, after working in Los Angeles for three years, Khalili decided to move to New York in hopes of finding a new job.
"It was a difficult time to find a job in New York City," she told the Iran Times. "The Internet bubble was bursting and then 9/11 rocked the city. I was actually thinking about joining the FBI, but I didn't want to have to handle a gun! Then after much persistence and weekly calls for about four months, I finally got a job as a production editor at Scholastic, the world's largest children's book publisher. I ultimately performed managing production editorial duties there as well. After three years there I went on to a position as a production editor at St. Martin's Press, another well-respected large publishing house."
After more than a year at St. Martin's, however, Khalili decided she was ready to return to Los Angeles. It was then, in 2006, that she accepted her current position as chief operating officer and publishing director at Hollywood OS. Khalili had met and befriended Hollywood Operating System (Hollywood OS) founder and CEO Angela Bertolino years before when she profiled her and her company for Back Stage West.
Hollywood OS was born in 1997 to fill a perceived gap in the entertainment industry by aiding newcomers and seasoned professionals seeking casting information.
Khalili said, "Perhaps the most unique part of my responsibilities is assisting casting directors in finding extras and some speaking roles for their films and TV shows. Their needs can run the gamut, from the mundane-lawyer types or prison thugs-to the outrageous-an 80-year-old woman willing to wear a bikini and jump into a tub of Jello. It takes all kinds!
"But it is definitely exciting and there is a certain thrill in the challenge to find what the casting director needs. And it's very rewarding to both help the casting director and offer an actor a role, no matter how strange or silly. It is a very difficult industry as it is, and whenever we can help someone get their foot in the door, we are quite proud to do so," Khalili told the Iran Times.
In her spare time, Khalili produces a public electronic parade for the winter holidays called Unsilent Night as well as Cantantes Homines, a men's choir that will perform at the University of California at Los Angeles this year.
Speaking in regards to her Iranian roots, Khalili told the Iran Times, "I am proud to be an Iranian-American at any time, but especially within the entertainment industry. I feel like it is my duty to be a good representative to those who may not have a sense of the Persian culture much less its people, who are vibrant, intelligent, creative, and generous. I am always excited to meet a fellow Persian within this industry. And we are all happy to help each other and enrich our experiences. There's definitely a special bond."
About Iran Times: The Iran Times is an independent newspaper with no affiliation with any political party or faction The Iran Times corporation was founded in Washington D.C. in 1970, in accordance with U.S. federal and local regulations: www.iran-times.com
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