30 Under 30: Kiana Kalantar Hormozi

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Kiana Kalantar Hormozi, 23, Glasgow

Kiana is a film maker who works to promote equality for all, focusing in particular on disability rights.

After studying psychology, media and film at Stirling University, Kiana completed a masters in film at the Screen Academy in Edinburgh. She recently completed an internship with Media Co-Op, where she produced a film as part of a campaign against the care tax, through which people with disabilities are required to repay costs of essential care provided to them.

The film, Tax on Me, takes the form of a music video, in which Kiana raps about the issue. Yes, raps. Kiana has a flare for music, and, leading on from her love of hip hop, she has recently started writing and rapping her own lyrics.

Now, she is working on a feature documentary called Stargazing and Spinraza, which will detail her journey of trying to access life-changing treatment for her disability. Kiana has Spinal Muscular Atrophy, a genetic condition which causes severe muscle weakness and can be fatal in severe cases. Spinraza is a newly FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) approved drug which Kiana and many others are seeking to access, with charities campaigning for the drug to become available in the UK.

Kiana and her team held a successful fundraising event for the film last weekend called Turn up 4 Spinraza, and they’re continuing to run a crowd funding campaign.

As Kiana tells us, she’s just getting started, so we can’t wait to see what this ambitious young film maker and campaigner will do next!


What’s your proudest achievement?

That’s the hardest question, I think, because I still have a lot to do – I feel like I’ve only just started everything that I want to do in life. But I think my proudest achievement is my family and friends, having a group of really different people who I’m really lucky to have in my life. But also it’s nice to be at a stage where I’ve graduated and I can make films like the one about the care tax that can influence people and hopefully make people listen.

What women inspire you?

There are a lot of different people who have inspired me – obviously friends and family, and people like my history teacher at school. She was definitely a very strong feminist who encouraged me to read books and taught me to think about the bigger picture in life, and she really inspired me quite a lot.

But also people who are more famous, like Maryam Mirzakhani. I guess it really depends what kind of field you’re talking about because there are women doing so many different things. So for example, for hip hop, I really love what Dessa is doing. She’s really sort of breaking boundaries with her music and her rap, and she’s sort of doing it but not paying attention to the gender issue. She’s just being herself, as opposed to trying to be a certain way to fit into society.

What change would you like to see for girls and young women in Scotland in next 10 years?

I would definitely like to see change in terms of education because I feel that there are not enough women being encouraged to go into fields like science and technology, STEM fields. I remember when I was at secondary, the older I got, the less women were in classes like physics, and it got to the point where I remember in my final physics class I was the only woman, and it was very strange.

So I would definitely like to see a difference in education and how we empower women to take control of their own independence and their own lives.

What can we do to shatter the glass ceiling once and for all?

To shatter the glass ceiling we need to achieve gender equality, but how we actually do that is a lot more complex, because there’s so many issues we need to face. I think part of the solution is to have men who are feminists and who also want gender equality because that’s 50% of the population.

I think what we need to do is to stop having stereotypes, especially in the media. I think we need to be more open and more realistic as well, because sometimes the portrayals of gender in the media are very over the top and don’t really reflect our society. So I think we need better representations and we need to sort of work together to achieve gender equality.

I think at the moment we’re in a situation that’s so tense, just in terms of politics, that I’m not sure what will happen, because we are seeing an increase in other issues, like racism and all the rest of it, so I’m not currently optimistic – but hopefully in the future!

What 3 women (past or present, real or fictional) would you invite to your dream dinner party/picnic?

It’s hard to choose 3 women but I would say, definitely Emma Watson, Dessa, and either Mulan or Pocahontas. Maybe actually Pocahontas!

What would your message be for girls and young women in Scotland?

I think my message would be to be your best self, and what I mean from that is: learn from everyone and it’s good to have role models and all the rest of it, but I think the only way we can actually contribute to society is by being your best self.

So, don’t follow a trend or do something because a group of people says you have to or something famous says you have to or because other women, or guys, tell you to. Follow your instincts and learn to be independent in mind as well as independent in life.

Pictures courtesy of Kiana Kalantar Hormozi and Sarah Amy Fishlock

You can see the full list of our amazing 30 Under 30 2017 finalists here, and keep a look out on the blog as we feature  a different finalist every day throughout November.

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