Yasmine Aker On The Importance Of Advocacy As An Iranian American - Exclusive

Yasmine Aker has been making quite the impression on "Good Trouble," which recently returned for its 5th season. On the show, Aker plays Angelica, a queer waitress caught up in an on-and-off romance with Malika (Zuri Adele), and new episodes promise to be filled with even more drama. "It's a very complicated relationship that Angelica, Malika, and Angelica's ex have in this strange triangle of work-love-exes," Aker tells The List. "There is definitely a lot of navigating transitions of relationships [and] trying to keep relationships within a healthy place."

Alongside her work as an actor, Aker is a renowned activist who regularly discusses her life as an Iranian American woman. In fact, Lizzo selected Aker as one of 17 activists to join her onstage at the People's Choice Awards in 2022, highlighting the incredible impact each of them is having on the world. The List sat down for an exclusive interview with Yasmine Aker to discuss her advocacy and why she's choosing to speak out on behalf of Iranians.

Yasmine Aker is standing up for Iranian women

While pursuing a career as an actor, Yasmine Aker has dedicated herself to using her platform to stand up for people who can't stand up for themselves. In particular, as an Iranian American woman, Aker continually brings awareness to the atrocities taking place in the world and the injustices women continue to face everywhere. 

"About six months ago, the unfortunate events happened in Iran with Mahsa Amini, which is nothing new; women have been getting stopped, arrested, beaten, and killed in Iran," Aker tells The List. "In Afghanistan, women are stoned to death for the accusation of adultery, not even proven adultery. Women around the world are treated in ways that are unimaginable. Iran and Afghanistan happen to be two of those places where that's happening right now, and it's at the forefront of one of the reasons why the revolution is happening."

The "Good Trouble" star isn't prepared to sit back and say nothing, and instead invests herself in using her platform as an actor to influence change. Calling out the gender apartheid that continues to take place around the globe, Aker says, "I think we are at a turning point in our world where people — not just women — are not okay with that." 

The risks associated with being an advocate

While Yasmine Aker is passionate about advocacy, speaking out on behalf of vulnerable populations carries its own risks. "There comes a certain level of danger that you put yourself in, because once you're in the public eye and you speak against the Taliban or you speak against the Islamic Republic, you're speaking against these governments that do have agents around the world and do carry out assassinations from time to time," she explains. "Anyone and everyone who's an activist that speaks out against governments specifically, they have a little bit of a natural fear that comes from that."

However, Aker tries not to let that fear influence her daily life or stop her from standing up for the causes she believes in. "They hope that most people will be so scared that they won't speak out against what's going on ..." she tells The List. "That's what keeps people silent. That's what has kept most Iranians silent for 44 years; everyone has family back home and they don't want to endanger their family."

In spite of these very real fears, Aker hopes that activists everywhere will continue to fight for equality and the end of unnecessary brutality and violence. "It's reached a tipping point where enough people are speaking out that it's quite difficult for any entity to go and find every single one of us, since there's hundreds of thousands of us now speaking out," she says. 

Watch "Good Trouble" Season 5 on Freeform and Hulu.