Ghazaleh Golbakhsh is a writer, filmmaker and academic.
Much of Iranian-Kiwi Ghazaleh Golbakhsh’s work explores her experience of a ‘hyphenated’ cultural identity after immigrating to New Zealand from war-torn Iran as a child with her family. Her book, The Girl From Revolution Road, is a collection of compelling personal essays that touch on the delicate balance of honouring her Persian roots and custom, while finding her place in the culture of her new home, including facing ingrained racism here.
Her documentary series, This Is Us, told the stories of New Zealand Muslims in their own words, following the terrorist attack in Christchurch in 2019 and her thesis film, Iran in Transit about what makes a homeland, was awarded on the international student film festival circuit. As such, she’s accustomed to traversing both the film and TV industry and academia – both white male-dominated spaces.
She has been persistent in carving space for herself and the challenges, voices and stories of women and minorities with similar experiences to hers, but equally she’s working on “stuff that has nothing to do with that.” Evidence of her evolution currently comes in different forms. She’s just completed a PhD with creative practice in Media and Communication, is working on a horror film, developing her first comedy feature film and sometimes ‘solves crimes’ as Detective Roshan Namal on Shortland Street.
Her book also pokes fun at the pitfalls of online dating and her clubbing days with brilliantly wry humour. Golbakhsh’s success is apparent, but she, too, admits self-worth is a work in progress. “It’s literally why I’m in therapy, learning how to realise that you are worthy. This idea that you are good enough, I think a lot of women struggle with that. It’s why I’m okay speaking about it, but it comes from challenging myself, and having supportive people around me. When you feel down about it, to sit with that – but also to push yourself to celebrate the little successes.”