Edgar Saakyan: Hi Arena, how are you? I'm glad to see you!
Arena Zeynalian: Hi Edgar, I'm glad to see you too!
Edgar Saakyan: Tell us how you spent the New Year and what are your nearest plans for 2022?
Arena Zeynalian: Due to the epidemiological situation, it is impossible to plan anything at the moment, so I do not want to talk about my plans for now. In 2020, when I planned something, there were always unpleasant surprises that taught me to be very careful in my desires. This is a great lesson! Now I live for today! However, I want to continue my education and continue filming my comedy series Soslandia.
Edgar Saakyan: Tell us a little about this series?
Arena Zeynalian: The series is already available on US Armenia, episode 9 has just been released. There are also videos on youtube.
Edgar Saakyan: Did you imagine yourself as an actress before when you lived in Iran?
Arena Zeynalian: You know very well that these past 5-6 years my life has changed dramatically. Before, I could not even imagine that I would star in comedy series. Oh, I never imagined myself as an actress of the comedy genre! However, having already arrived in America, I continued to shoot.
Edgar Saakyan: Let's go back in time and remember the time when you lived in Iran. What were you doing there?
Arena Zeynalian: Until the age of 23, I lived and studied in Iran, graduated from the University of Technology, then devoted myself to jewelry, because my father is a jeweler. I was in charge of product design and promotion. After 23 I flew to Armenia, I came to the casting of the Miss Armenia contest to Guar. Already after 7-8 months I won my first victory, and after that I was invited to participate as an actress in the Womens Club project, and then I ended up in the USA, where I stayed due to covid. And at first life was very hard.
Edgar Saakyan: What difficulties did you face while living in the USA?
Arena Zeynalian: Honestly, when I first arrived, life was far from fabulous. I lived with my cousin, who was the only entity responsible for me. I had no acquaintances or friends here. In addition, I came to the United States on a tourist visa, so I did not have any social insurance. Imagine that during a pandemic I am in a foreign country without health insurance ... I was very scared. My cousin urged me to stay at home and not go out anywhere. And I really stayed at home. Only after 2 months, I slowly began to return to society. I started getting to know people. Later I entered the university, in general, life began to improve. I had a feeling that I did it, that I overcame everything, now I can do my projects. Many people come to the US in search of a better life, but few manage to overcome all the difficulties to get on their feet.
Edgar Sakyan: Would you like to return to Armenia?
Arena Zeynalian: I would return to Armenia. But I would not stay there, because I have already come a long way. And although I miss Armenia, but here I imagine myself more. However, only when I return to Armenia do I feel happy, I always feel good there.
Edgar Saakyan: Then let's talk about that Miss Armenia 2018 pageant. How was the competition for you?
Arena Zeynalian: As you know, 2018 was difficult. No one knew what these beauty contests were. There are a lot of stereotypes, in particular, that the participants are stupid. I was uncomfortable hearing this. I tried to get rid of these stereotypes. Compared to 2021, the competition has changed a lot: it has become more organized. Then Gohar was alone, and it was very difficult for her.
Edgar Saakyan: I didn't follow the contest in 2018. Tell us how the citizens of Armenia reacted to the fact that the Miss Armenia contest was won by a girl from Iran?
Arena Zeynalian: Very good question. To tell the truth, the stereotypes have remained the same, in particular, the thinking of the Armenian people can sometimes hurt an unprepared person. I heard a lot of comments about the fact that there are no beautiful girls in Armenia who could bring victory to the country? It was said to my face. Of course, things changed after the war. In 2021, a Syrian-Armenian won Miss Armenia, and there were not as many comments on this topic as there were then in 2018. And for me, this whole competition was new: both participation, and victory, and the fact that I was sent to Miss World in China. Imagine that I am from a country where this kind of competition is prohibited. In addition, before Gohar got involved in competitions, he had a very bad reputation. I faced all these difficulties. But our small friendly team struggled with these problems. I got there, I didn’t know anyone, I didn’t pay anyone ... I think that my victory was fair, although I don’t understand why the director of Shant TV still can’t provide me with a recording of the moment where I am crowned. This is still not clear to me.
Edgar Saakyan: After Miss Armenia, you were invited to the Womens Club project and there were no such problems there. Questions that you are from Iran, no one asked you?
Arena Zeynalian: No. They were excited and interested to push the boundaries. I am in favor of breaking these stereotypes about Armenians who do not come from Armenia. They also make a huge contribution to charity, support for Armenians and “Armenianism”. It does not matter where the Armenian woman was born or lives. She will always be Armenian. Armenians are everywhere. And this does not mean that those who do not live in Armenia are not Armenians.
Edgar Saakyan: I totally agree with you! Armenia lacks educational activities. Let's move on to your experience at Womens Club?
Arena Zeynalian: my friend call me, he said that the producer of the show was looking for my number, for me it was surprising. I myself did not watch this program, but I knew about its solid reputation. On the same day we met with the producers. I was shocked… By the way, before that I was in the theater at a production in which Tom and Louise, actresses from this show, participated, and we discussed with my mother how difficult it is to be an actress. And then... It happens to me. It was a real challenge for me. The first episodes were not very successful for me.
Edgar Saakyan: Why did you complete this project?
Arena Zeynalian: I didn't finish, let's call it a vacation. I flew to the USA, covid began ...
Edgar Saakyan: What can you say about the contestants of the Miss Armenia 2021 show: Kristina, Mirna and Nane?
Arena Zeynalian: I followed the competition, but I'll be honest, I mostly followed Mirna because she is Miss World Armenia, just like me, so I tried my best to help her with all possible problems. I voted for her, followed her on social networks. The moment with shoes is very memorable, because it was very original and successful.
Edgar Saakyan: Does Armenia need beauty contests?
Arena Zeynalian: I believe time will tell. People still can't get into this atmosphere. But anyway, in 4 years there has already been a big shift, so many stereotypes have already been broken. In a few years, people, I think, will change their attitude. Recently, by the way, I talked with Mirna and she said that the Eurovision Song Contest is popular in Armenia, although the project itself is not so popular all over the world. These contests promote the country. Because there are still people who still do not know where Armenia is. At a competition in China, when they asked me where Armenia was, I said that it was next to Russia, and people nodded.
Edgar Saakyan: Which of the members do you still keep in touch with?
Arena Zeynalian: I keep in touch with Miss Germany 2018, I love her very much, we wish each other happy holidays. And with the rest, contacts have already been lost. Although when I watch competitions, I always remember the contestant from this country of my year, it's such a nice reference to the past!
Edgar Saakyan: It was a pleasure to chat with you!
Arena Zeynalian: Thank you for the conversation!