Posted: Sunday, February 28, 2010 at 05:33 PM UT
Rosie Malek-Yonan (in Aramaic: ܪܘܙܝ ܡܠܟ ܝܘܢܢ) is an Assyrian actress, artist, director, author and human rights activist.
Born on July 4th, 1965 in Tehran, Iran, to George Malek-Yonan and Lida Malek-Yonan, Rosie is a descendant of one of the oldest and most prominent Assyrian families, tracing her Assyrian roots back nearly eleven centuries. The Malek family or tribe came from the Assyrian village of Geogtapah, Urmia (Urmi), a region in northwestern Iran. Geogtapa was the largest Assyrian Christian village in the region and much of it belonged to the Malek-Yonan family with the oldest plot in the family graveyard dating back to 1,100 CE.
During the Assyrian Genocide of 1914-1918, Rosie's grandparents left their ancestral homeland in Urmia, Iran, during the Great Exodus from Urmi. The Malek-Yonan family fled to Mesopotamia where her father was born in Baghdad, while Rosie's maternal grandmother fled to Russia where her mother was born in Rostov. Years later, both families returned to Tehran where her parents met and were married. Rosie has a younger sister, Monica, who works very closely with her on most of her projects. Rosie's great-great-uncle, Dr. Jesse Malek-Yonan represented the Assyrians of Urmi during the Paris Peace Talks in 1919 after World War I.
“I may not have a country, but my country is in me.”
— Rosie Malek-Yonan
Rosie Malek-Yonan is a classically trained pianist, composer, actress, director, writer, documentary filmmaker and activist. She began studying piano at the age of four and while still in her teens, competed in and won many national piano competitions in Iran and attended the Tehran Conservatory of Music. In 1972 after winning a national piano competition in Iran, she was invited by Queen Farah Pahlavi to play at a Command Performance. Upon receiving her L.C. degree in English from the University of Cambridge, she studied classical piano with Saul Joseph at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and acting with Ray Reinhardt at the American Conservatory Theatre. A graduate of San Francisco State University with two degrees in Music, she won an invitation to study drama at the prestigious American Academy of Dramatic Arts and the historic Pasadena Playhouse. Her plays have been produced and performed on stage in Los Angeles.Monica Malek-Yonan's documentary film, My Assyrian Nation on the Edge, based on Rosie Malek-Yonan's Congressional Testimony was released September 2006 (ISBN 0-9771873-0-6) in English. The film is being released in Europe with French, German, Swedish and Dutch subtitles (ISBN 978-0-9771873-31). On 7 August 2008, the documentary film was screened at the Australian Parliament of New South Wales in Sydney. Among the attendees were Rev. Hon. Fred Nile MLC, Hon. David Clarke MLC, Senator Helen Coonan and Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells.
Rosie made her television debut in 1982 on Aaron Spelling's television series, Dynasty, immediately followed by a national commercial for AT&T where she spoke in Assyrian. She has since appeared in numerous notable television shows, films and plays, acting in a wide range of roles opposite many of Hollywood's leading actors. She played the role of Nuru Il-Ebrahimi, opposite Reese Witherspoon in New Line Cinema's Rendition, directed by Oscar winning director Gavin Hood. The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. In 2008, Rosie joined the cast of ABC's General Hospital as Farah Mir.
In 2006, at the 73rd Annual Assyrian Convention in Chicago, Illinois, the Board of Advisors of the Assyrian American National Federation, Inc., selected Rosie Malek-Yonan as Woman of the Year.
In 2007 she joined the Board of Advisers at Seyfo Center in Europe and is the director of Seyfo Center in the United States. The center deals primarily with issues concerning the Assyrian Genocide of 1914-1918.
She is a founding member of the Assyrian Cultural and Arts Society that has provided scholarships since 2005 to students at Woodbury University's Design School through an annual Assyrian Design Competition.
For her numerous contributions as an actress, artist, director, author and activist, in March 2008, Rosie Malek-Yonan was awarded for Excellence in Arts and Entertainment by the Iranian American Political Action Committee (IAPAC).
In 2009 she became an ambassador for the Swedish based organization, Assyrians Without Borders.
At the Assyrian Universal Alliance 26th World Conference in Sydney, Australia, she was named the 2009 Assyrian Woman of the Year in recognition of her substantial contribution to advance the Assyrian national cause by promoting international recognition of the Assyrian Genocide, her extensive efforts in conveying the needs of the Assyrians to the United States government, and achievements in providing individual service to the Assyrian community worldwide.
She is an outspoken advocate of issues concerning her nation, in particular bringing attention to the Assyrian Genocide as well as the plight of today's Assyrians in the Middle-East since the 2003 invasion of Iraq by the United States and its Coalition Forces. She is frequently interviewed on television and radio programs worldwide including Australia's ABC National Radio giving her assessment of the current situation of the Assyrians in the Middle-East as well as discussing the topic of the Assyrian Genocide. Her articles are published globally and translated into many languages. She is also a public speaker and is often invited to lecture about the Assyrian Genocide. She has lectured at University of Berkeley, University of California at Merced and Woodbury University among others.
On June 30, 2006, Rosie Malek-Yonan, was invited to testify on Capitol Hill before a Congressional Committee of the 109th Congress on religious freedom regarding the genocide, massacres and persecution of Assyrians in Iraq since the beginning of the 2003 Iraq War. Reading from her epic and historical book, she compared the Assyrian Genocide of 1914-1918, as depicted in The Crimson Field, to the current plight of the indigenous Assyrian Christians in Iraq. Her 30 minute passionate testimony and plea to the U.S. government, ultimately prompted Congressman Christopher Smith (R-NJ) to travel to war-torn Iraq to witness matters for himself. While in Iraq, after meeting with local Assyrians, he turned in Malek-Yonan's in depth report to U.S. Officials in Iraq. One year later, a Congressional appropriations subcommittee voted to send $10 million to aid the Assyrians in Iraq.
The complete archived transcript and webcast of the actual Congressional Testimony is available at the website of the U.S. House of Representatives.
In 2008 Rosie addressed the topics of genocide, world peace and in particular the Assyrian Genocide in statements presented at the British House of Lords on 12 March and on 24 April at the House of Commons of the United Kingdom.