Nazanin Boniadi

If ever there was an endorsement of the decision to eschew a career in medicine for one in show business, it is the life story of Nazanin Boniadi. Though she kicked off her academic career with plans to become a doctor, the Iran-born Boniadi realized soon enough that she was meant to live on the screen. After opting out of her medical studies, the actress found ample work on popular cable dramas, network sitcoms, and even a Marvel movie. Nazanin Boniadi was born on May 22, 1980 in Tehran, Iran, though she moved with her parents to London, England, almost immediately. An interest in performance came to Boniadi early, taking form principally in ballet and a guest appearance on the British children's television show "Early Bird" (Channel 4 1989-1992). However, Boniadi would devote her education to the field of medicine, going so far as to earn a bachelor's degree in Biological Sciences (graduating with honors) from the University of California, Irvine. Later, in 2006, Boniadi shifted her interests back to the arts, beginning to land roles in films like the rock 'n' roll romantic comedy "Gameface" (2007) and television series like the dramedy "The Game" (The CW/BET 2006-15), as well as soap operas "General Hospital" (ABC 1963-) and its spinoff "General Hospital: Night Shift" (Soapnet 2007-08) simultaneously. With a boost in familiarity from these small-screen projects, Boniadi enjoyed a rather speedy takeoff into a successful acting career, landing a smaller role as news reporter Amira Ahmed in the major comic book blockbuster "Iron Man" (2008). The next two years would see Boniadi anchored principally to her "General Hospital" role - for which she'd earn an NAACP Image Award nomination for Outstanding Actress in a Daytime Drama Series in 2008 - though she did feature in the romantic dramedy "Shades of Ray" (2008) and occasionally guest star on other popular TV shows like "24" (Fox 2001-10) and "Hawthorne" (TNT 2009-2011). Meanwhile, Boniadi explored philanthropy outside of acting, becoming a spokesperson for the human rights organization Amnesty International USA. In 2011, Boniadi began a substantial run on "How I Met Your Mother" (CBS 2005-2014) as Nora, a love interest for Neil Patrick Harris' series regular character Barney. This was likely the actress' most famous role until she joined the CIA drama "Homeland" (Showtime 2011-) in 2013, playing agency analyst Fara Sherazi. A year later, while still working on the Claire Danes-led program, Boniadi landed on a recurring role on Shonda Rhimes' Washington D.C. drama "Scandal" (ABC 2012-), playing political assassin Adnan Salif.