Rosie Malek-Yonan

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Rosie Malek-Yonan
Rosie Malek-Yonan (2008)
Born (1965-07-04) July 4, 1965 (age 58)
CitizenshipUnited States
  • Actress
  • author
  • director Edit this at Wikidata

Rosie Malek-Yonan (b. July 4, 1965[1]) is an Assyrian-American[2][3][4][5] actress, author, director, public figure and activist. Malek-Yonan became a noted pianist at an early age. Having graduated from the University of Cambridge, she settled in the United States, where she pursued a career in music and dramatic arts. As an actress she appeared in well over 30 films and television series, including Up Close & Personal (1996) and Rendition (2007), as well as, among others, Generations, Dynasty, CSI: Miami, JAG, ER and Babylon 5.

She also authored The Crimson Field, a historical novel set in the times of the Assyrian genocide during World War I; the book is one of the most popular pieces of prose among modern Assyrians.[5]

Early life and education[edit]

Malek-Yonan was born in Tehran, Iran. Malek-Yonan's father, George Malek-Yonan, was an international attorney in Iran.[6] Malek-Yonan's mother, Lida Malek-Yonan[7] was an activist who launched and presided over the Assyrian Women's Organization which was the only officially recognized charter member of the Iranian Women's Association until the end of the Pahlavi dynasty.[8]


Malek-Yonan is a classically trained pianist, composer, actress, director, writer, documentary filmmaker and activist.[9] 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.[10] In 1972 after winning a national piano competition in Iran, she was invited by Queen Farah Pahlavi to play at a Command Performance.[10]

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 Theater. A graduate of San Francisco State University with two degrees in Music, she won an invitation to study drama at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts[11] and the historic Pasadena Playhouse. Her plays have been produced and performed on stage. In 2008 Malek-Yonan's one woman play, An Assyrian Exodus previewed in Hartford, Connecticut. The work is based on true family diaries written during the 1918 Great Exodus from Urmia, Iran. About the production, Janey Golani, of The Assyrian Star writes, "…presentations included those of Ms. Rosie Malek-Yonan which was filled with many emotional attendees who were struck by her performance of "An Assyrian Exodus" a dramatic staged reading based on Rosie's Family Diaries."[12][13]

Reviewing Malek-Yonan's work as an actor and director, Martin Hernandez of LA Weekly writes, "Superbly acted and directed...Director Rosie Malek-Yonan honed the works to perfection, even down to the fitting choice of songs for transitions and intermission."[14] About her stage directing, Bruce Feld writes, "Rosie Malek-Yonan has done an excellent job and what might have become a sketch in other hands becomes a poignant episode of universal import...exceptional direction.".[15] In another review, Feld wrote, "Very well directed by Rosie Malek-Yonan...The material is very tricky, but Malek-Yonan handles it with requisite sensitivity, without in any way watering down the heavy conflict...Sparks ignite..."[15]

Malek-Yonan made her television debut in 1983 on Aaron Spelling's television series, Dynasty,[16] 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 has had recurring roles on Days of Our Lives, Chicago Hope, Beverly Hills, 90210, The Young and the Restless and in 2008 she joined the cast of ABC's General Hospital as Farah Mir.[17][18][19][20] On Star Trek: Deep Space Nine she was Tekoa.[21][22][23] She has guest starred on such shows as Generations, Seinfeld, Life and JAG. 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.[24][25]

In 2015 Malek-Yonan joined the executive board of the Beverly Hills Film Festival as a consultant.[26]

Human rights activism[edit]

Malek-Yonan is an outspoken advocate of issues concerning her people, 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.[27] She has candidly criticized the U.S. for failure to protect the Christians in Iraq since the beginning of the 2003 Invasion of Iraq.[28] In an interview with The New York Times Malek-Yonan said, "Anytime the Western countries go to war in the Middle East, it becomes a religious war…" In the interview she also held Kurdish commanders in Iraq responsible for "depriving the Christians of security in an effort to tilt the demographics in favor of Kurds. The expected result, she said, was an exodus of hundreds of thousands of Christians from Iraq. At least hundreds have been killed. One priest was quartered and beheaded."[4][29][30]

Congressional Testimony, June 30, 2006

On June 30, 2006, Rosie Malek-Yonan, was invited to testify on Capitol Hill before a Congressional Committee[31][32] 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 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 testimony and plea to the U.S. government, ultimately prompted Congressman Chris 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.[33] The complete archived transcript and webcast of the actual Congressional Testimony is available at the website of the U.S. House of Representatives.[34][35][36]

Monica Malek-Yonan's documentary film, My Assyrian Nation on the Edge,[37][38] based on Rosie Malek-Yonan's Congressional Testimony was released September 2006 (ISBN 0-9771873-0-6) in English. The film is released in Europe with French, German, Swedish and Dutch subtitles (ISBN 978-0-9771873-31). The Australian Premiere was on 7 August 2008, at the Australian Parliament of New South Wales in Sydney.

In 2008, Malek-Yonan 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.[39]

On October 5, 2008, Malek-Yonan spoke on behalf of the Assyrian nation in Iraq at a Los Angeles rally held in front of the Federal Building to oppose the Iraq Election Law. She addressed the crowd of demonstrators and the media voicing her opposition at the removal of article 50 and its consequences for the minorities in Iraq in particular the Assyrians. "Democracy in Iraq will fail if it does not treat all members of its society equally under the law." She went on to say, "Assyrians have already paid a heavy price since the beginning of the Iraq War. The liberation of Iraqis must encompass all its citizens, including the Assyrians, and not just the Sunni, the Shi'ites and the Kurds.[40][41]

Malek-Yonan is a public speaker[42][43] and is often invited to lecture about the Assyrian genocide.[44] On 24 February 2007, Malek-Yonan was a keynote speaker at an open forum in Anaheim, California, discussing the persecution of the Copts and the plight of Christians in the Middle East.[45] She has lectured at University of California, Berkeley,[46] University of California, Merced,[47] and Woodbury University among others.[48]

On December 20, 2010, Malek-Yonan, was invited by the Simon Wiesenthal Center Museum of Tolerance to speak at a press conference to address the escalating crisis and the deadly attacks on the Assyrians in Iraq.[49] Later in an interview with Fox News, Malek-Yonan described how going to church is a game of Russian Roulette for the Assyrian Christians in Iraq. "They never know when they go to church, if that's going to be the last mass, the last moment of their lives."[50] The press conference was prompted by the 31 October 2010 massacre at "The Lady of Salvation Church" in Baghdad.[51][52]


In 2006, at the 73rd Annual Assyrian Convention in Chicago, Illinois, the Board of Advisors of the Assyrian American National Federation, Inc., Malek-Yonan was awarded Woman of the Year.[53]

For her numerous contributions as an actress, artist, director, author and activist, in March 2008, Malek-Yonan was awarded for Excellence in Arts and Entertainment by the Iranian American Political Action Committee (IAPAC).[9]

At the Assyrian Universal Alliance 26th World Conference in Sydney, Australia, Malek-Yonan was awarded "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.[54]

In 2014, at the 14th annual Beverly Hills Film Festival, Malek-Yonan's screenplay, The Crimson Field, cowritten with her sister, Monica Malek-Yonan, based on her book by the same title, won the Palme d'Or for best screenplay [55]

Charitable work[edit]

Malek-Yonan 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.[56]

In 2009 Malek-Yonan became an ambassador for the Swedish-based organization, Assyrians Without Borders.[57]


Rosie Malek-Yonan (2003)


Year Title Role
1980 Olives for Breakfast Rosie
1980 Walking Among Angels Angel
1990 Separate Rooms Sophie
1996 Up Close & Personal Agent
1996 For Goodness Sake II four characters
2002 Anniversary Maria
2005 Animal Stories Maria
2007 Rendition Nuru El-Ibrahimi

Documentary films[edit]

Year Title Role Director/Notes
2010 Defying Deletion: The Fight Over Iraq’s Nineveh Plains Herself Winner 2011 Detroit Film Festival, 2011 Uptown Film Festival
2006 My Assyrian Nation on the Edge (ISBN 0-9771873-0-6) Herself Writer, Director, Composer, Co-executive Producer

Television series[edit]

Year Title Role
1982 Dynasty Stewardess
1986 Capitol Recurring role
1986 Santa Barbara Guest Starring
1987, 1996 Days of Our Lives Recurring role
1989 Murder, She Wrote Air Levant Clerk
1989 Divorce Court Terri Ahmadi
1990 Generations Gretchen
1990 Cop Rock Production Assistant
1991 Lethal Charm aka Her Wicked Ways Iberian Airline Clerk
1991, 2008 General Hospital Farah Mir, recurring role
1995 NYPD Blue Ackama
1995 Babylon 5 ("Confessions and Lamentations") Doctor
1996 Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Tekoa
1997 The Visitor Maria
1997 Diagnosis: Murder Claudia Mores
1998 Beverly Hills, 90210 Recurring/Barbara
1998 Profiler Roya
1998 Seinfeld Mrs. Phil
1996, 1997, 1999 Chicago Hope Cindy Grey, recurring role
1999 St. Michael's Crossing ("CBS Pilot") Wife
1999 Melrose Place Doctor
1999 Entertainment Tonight Self
1999, 2003 The Young and the Restless Fadel, recurring role

2000 The Practice Lambert
2001 Three Sisters ("NBC Pilot")[58] Arab Woman
2002 CSI: Miami Receptionist
2002 JAG multiple episodes
2007 Life Roya Darvashi
2007 ER Nazely
2008 Eli Stone Nurse

Stage credits[edit]

Title Role Theatre Director Notes/References
An Assyrian Exodus Assyria Hartford Marriott Rosie Malek-Yonan [12][13]
William Saroyan's The Time of Your Life Elsie Pasadena Playhouse Jill Mana Capps [59][60]
Tennessee Williams' Summer and Smoke Alma Pasadena Playhouse Stan Zales [61]
Detective Story Susan Pasadena Playhouse Darleen Duralia [62]
Bedfellows Miranda Morales Skylight Theatre Chris Fields World Premiere, Drama-Logue Award recipient, Critic's Pick[63][64][65][66][67]
A Gentleman of Quality Nicole Ivar Theatre Rosie Malek-Yonan [68][69][70]
Molière's Le Malade imaginaire The Imaginary Invalid Toinette Gallery Theatre Rosie Malek-Yonan [71][72][73]
Speak! Brandy Theatre Geo Dana Coen World Premiere[74]
Soft Dude Doll Theatre Geo Rosie Malek-Yonan Critic's Pick[14][15]
Garrison Keillor's My Stepmother, Myself Snow Theatre Geo Rosie Malek-Yonan [75]
Double Bound Mori Mise en Scène Theater Herb Rogers World Premiere[76]
Once a Catholic Mother Thomas Aquinas Celtic Arts Center Joe Premell [76][77]
The Light in the Mill Nancy Theatre Americana Edgar Weinstock World Premiere[78][79][80]


Lies Like Truth Denise Theatre Americana John Otrin World Premiere[82][83]
Stage Door Olga Charles Jehlinger Theatre Lisle Wilson [76]
All Over Town Millie Charles Jehlinger Theatre Ken McGee [76]

Director credits[edit]

  • The Assyrian - a documentary film
  • My Assyrian Nation on the Edge
  • Her Master's Voice - co-wrote with Monica Malek-Yonan - Radio Show
  • The Imaginary Invalid - Gallery Theatre, Hollywood[84][68][85]
  • A Gentleman of Quality - co-wrote with Monica Malek-Yonan - Ivar Theatre, Hollywood[68][86][87][88]
  • A Matter of the Mind - En Scene Theatre, N. Hollywood
  • Service Please Hold! (from 8x10) - Theatre Geo, HollywoodHernandez, Martin (21–27 October 1994). "Calendar". LA Weekly.[15]
  • Soft Dude - Theatre Geo, Hollywood[14][15]
  • Correct Address - Theatre Geo, Hollywood[14][15]
  • The Ties That Bind - Theatre Geo, Hollywood[15]
  • My Stepmother, Myself - Theatre Geo, Hollywood [89]


The Crimson Field is an historical and literary epic novel, set in Urmia, Iran, Russia and San Francisco, California. It is based on real events and true family chronicles set to the backdrop of the Assyrian genocide of 1914–1918 in the shadows of World War I where 750,000 Assyrians were massacred by the Ottoman Turks and Kurdish tribes in Ottoman Turkey and in the Assyrian inhabited region of Urmi (Urmia) in northwestern Iran. The book was selected as The Assyrian Event of the Year 2005 by Zinda magazine (22 April 2006).[90] It was features in the Winter 2007's fourth issue of MAKE, a Chicago Literary Magazine[91] and chosen as required reading by Professor Ellene Phufas for a World Literature class for the SUNY system (State University of New York) to represent a work about the Christian Genocides in Asia Minor.[92]


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External links[edit]