The Untold Truth Of Alia Shawkat

Most of the world first got to know Alia Shawkat when the beloved cult-comedy Arrested Development debuted in 2003, running for three seasons until it first wrapped in 2006. The show, in which Shawkat played the quirky and confident Maeby Fünke, was later resurrected years later, thanks to Netflix and some die-hard fans (via The Verge).

But Shawkat is so much more than the character she played on Arrested Development. In fact, she has quite the impressive film resume, and has been active as an actor, a writer, and a producer, according to her IMDb profile. From Search Party to Duck Butter to Transparent, Shawkat has shown that she can tackle a variety of roles with authenticity and nuance, and she's showing no signs of slowing down.

So what else is there to know about the actor? Does she pine for her Arrested Development days or does she have her eye on the future instead? And is she seeing anyone special? Read on to discover the untold truth of Alia Shawkat.

Alia Shawkat had a famous grandfather

Talent must run in the Shawkat family because Alia Shawkat's grandfather was none other than Paul Burke, who was quite the actor in his time. "He was the star of Valley of the Dolls, and he was in The Thomas Crown Affair, and he had his own TV show — two of them," Shawkat shared in a chat with Parks and Recreation star Aubrey Plaza for Interview magazine. "Naked City was his main one." Indeed it was, as Burke garnered two Emmy Award nominations for his work on the latter in 1962 and 1963, according to IMDb

As Shawkat tells it, she was quite close to her grandfather, who rubbed shoulders with Hollywood greats like Gene Hackman, Dustin Hoffman, and Robert Redford. "He retired in Palm Springs, and when my parents were starting their business, we moved there," she continued. That's where Shawkat did most of her growing up.

In 2009, Burke passed away at the age of 83, as reported by the Los Angeles Times. What a legacy he left behind!

Alia Shawkat's parents run this business in California

Like her grandfather, Alia Shawkat is a Hollywood actor, but that doesn't mean she comes from an entire family of thespians. In fact, her parents have been running an interesting business in the Palm Springs region for quite some time. "My father's from Baghdad and he runs a strip club and always has since I was young," she revealed in an interview with MIFF. "Like, a topless bar." Who would have thought?

While some may look down on the strip club industry, Shawkat told The Guardian that it's never really bothered her, though it did have an impact on her worldview. "It was never a secret, there was no shame around it," she said. "It wasn't like they were seedy club owners: it was a business."

Noting that it "affected [her] in some way," Shawkat told MIFF that she's writing about her experiences growing up as the child of gentleman's club entrepreneurs. "This next project I'm writing on is about communicating and deepening the feminine inside us all and maturing the masculine energy," she shared.

Alia Shawkat's high school classmates partied hard

While some experimentation with drugs and alcohol is fairly common in college, according to the journal Substance Abuse, it's less widespread among high school students, as noted by Psychology Today. However, that wasn't the case for Alia Shawkat growing up in Palm Springs — far from it, in fact. "People were partying really hard at a young age because they were bored," she recalled in an interview with The Guardian. "I smoked pot, not much else. But looking back, people were doing heavy drugs, just in high school." Sounds like desert life got a little wild early on!

Now that Shawkat is over 30, however, she's noticed that younger generations are far more restrained than her generation and others were at the same age. That's because they're doing fewer drugs and having less sex than previous generations — but spending more time online. "On one hand, great, they're more aware," she continued. "On another hand, are they not [doing these things] because they're not experiencing life through actions, but through looking at things?"

How Alia Shawkat really feels about feminism

When it comes to personal philosophies, Alia Shawkat definitely has a moral compass that helps her move through the world. For one, she's a proud feminist, though she knows that some folks may have a hard time with that for a variety of reasons. "I think people get hung up a lot on what feminism is, it's just that women should be treated equally — socially, politically, economically," she explained to Huck magazine. "That shouldn't be hard." It really shouldn't, Alia!

Shawkat also expects to see people treated respectfully on set, as she describes it as a "microcosm" of the real world. Simultaneously, Shawkat does honor that every actor or artist has their process — but she draws the line when that encroaches on the rights of others. "It can't involve being disrespectful, or any kind of abuse," she shared in an interview with PopSugar. "Because that's just not worth making it."

So whether you're the biggest superstar on set or a production assistant, a man or a woman, Shawkat believes everyone is equal.

Alia Shawkat came out as bisexual

In 2017, fans of Alia Shawkat learned that she is bisexual, after she casually mentioned it in an interview with Out magazine. And as she tells it, Shawkat wasn't really planning for it to be a big deal — it just kind of happened. "It wasn't anything that I was preparing to announce, necessarily, in that interview," she revealed to PopSugar. "It was kind of the first time I was asked." Still, it was an exciting moment for the LGBTQ+ community.

Ever the humble person, Shawkat didn't realize how much her declaration would mean to people, who texted her their warm congratulations. "I'm not incredibly well-known," she continued. "But when you're somewhat of a public figure, you're not aware of that aspect of it — that people would even be interested in that fact."

Shawkat added that she feels lucky to be out in a society that is relatively accepting, and that she feels right at home in the queer community.

Gender is a fluid thing for Alia Shawkat

When Alia Shawkat realized that she was bisexual, it caused a real shift in how she navigated her romantic and intimate relationships. The revelation also caused a bit of a stir in her soul with regard to her gender identity, which she says is fluid. "I am a girl. Other times, I'm a boy," she revealed to the Independent in 2019. She added that she thinks young people have been a lot more graceful in figuring out where they are in (or out of) the gender binary — or just admitting that they're not quite sure.

As for where she pinpoints herself on the spectrum of gender, Shawkat still has some things to figure out. "I'm still catching up with exactly how to define myself, or not define myself," she continued. "I used to want to burn my femininity, because it meant something I didn't like. Now, I'm trying to wake it back up, and be like, 'I'm so sorry I hurt you. I'll never let that happen again.'"

In addition to acting, Alia Shawkat loves to sing and paint

Even though Alia Shawkat is quite busy with acting, writing, and the other aspects of her film career, she still maintains other hobbies. That allows her to explore other facets of herself, as she says acting demands a certain kind of energy from her. "When I'm painting or singing, I get to experience a different side of that," she shared in a conversation with Aubrey Plaza for Interview magazine. Our girl is seriously multi-talented!

When it comes to the visual art that Shawkat makes, she maintains an active Instagram page that she uses to share her drawings and paintings. As for her musical activities, Shawkat enjoys performing live at clubs and speakeasies. "With singing, I don't necessarily have to share my own personality, but I get to be emotional," she continued. "With jazz, I get to play a different character." She added that she likes to have a couple of drinks beforehand to make the vibe a little bit messier, something she likes.

When Arrested Development first wrapped, Alia Shawkat felt rudderless

While Alia Shawkat really seems to have it all together now, there was a point in her life when she felt rudderless — and that was right after the first incarnation of Arrested Development wrapped. "I finished the show when I was 18, I went to Sarah Lawrence [College] for three days, withdrew, and moved to Manhattan and was like, I'm gonna live the dream out here," she recalled in an interview with Vogue. "I didn't act for like a year." And while Shawkat was indeed very happy and was dating someone special, she was super unsure about her career and what direction it would go in.

But after spending time painting, going to museums, and doing a lot of shopping, Shawkat began to realize that something was missing. "It made me discover all kinds of s**t and made me realize I actually still wanted to act," she continued. So when an audition came along — this one for the movie Whip It — Shawkat was ready to be an actor once again. The rest is history!

How Alia Shawkat really feels about Arrested Development being behind her

While Arrested Development certainly launched Alia Shawkat's career and might be the show that she's best known for, it's not something she wanted to do forever. "It was such a big part of my life, from 14 to 28," she explained in an interview with The Guardian. "It's like family: I love it, but I'm happy we're moving on." Indeed all good things do eventually have to come to an end.

That's why Shawkat has moved on to acting in other shows and films, including one she wrote herself (along with director Miguel Arteta) entitled Duck Butter. She's also interested in doing more directing in the future, which is a pretty exciting prospect.

As to what Shawkat believes her younger self would think about her life now? "She'd like all the new clothes, I guess," she stated. "I think she'd be happy I was doing the art I wanted to."

This is what Alia Shawkat regrets about that notorious Arrested Development interview

If you're a fan of Arrested Development, you probably remember when a cast interview for The New York Times went viral back in 2018. In it, some of the male cast members — Jason Bateman, Tony Hale, and David Cross — were quick to defend co-star Jeffrey Tambor when Jessica Walter called him out for verbally abusive behavior. And while the men apologized after the fact, the outrage that their comments generated was palpable.

Alia Shawkat didn't say much about the situation that day, but she was very upset by the whole experience. "Afterwards I was scared that I didn't say enough and was kind of upset with myself that I wasn't able to stand my ground more," she revealed in an interview with Vice. "But once Jessica was upset, that was my main concern."

Shawkat hopes that, if anything, the interview and its fallout can help men to be better to the women in their lives, both inside and outside of Hollywood.

When Alia Shawkat shaved her head for a role, people thought something happened to her

When Alia Shawkat was working on Search Party, she had to shave her head for the series at one point. "We did it the last day, and then shot the scenes that needed it," she shared in an interview with Vulture. "It was an interesting process." She added that she found it freeing to let go of the attachment she had to her hair.

But once Shawkat was back out in the world with her newly shorn 'do, she found that people had quite the intense reaction to her appearance. "People were like, "Did you lose something in your life?'" she continued. One of her neighbors even asked her what happened, fearing that Shawkat had done something "insane."

Shawkat also pointed out the double standard at work, as, when men shave their heads, no one wonders about their sanity. "Everyone has projections and a lot more for women," she added.

Alia Shawkat has some strong feelings about marriage

On many occasions, Alia Shawkat has been open about both sex and her sexuality, and she explores similar themes in her work as well. But as to whether marriage is eventually in the cards for Shawkat, that's doubtful, as she says the institution is "patriarchal but also consumerism-based," as she explained to the Independent. "The whole big show of it all, all this money that's spent — that seems crazy," she shared. She's no big fan of the traditional white dress that many women wear either, something she dismisses as unnecessary.

Additionally, Shawkat feels that making such a huge production of your wedding day isn't going to guarantee a happily-ever-after, either. "Normally, the more money you spend on a wedding, the shorter the marriage lasts," she quipped. "I just made that statistic up. But I feel like it sounds true."

Furthermore, Shawkat also believes that people should explore their intimate lives together before marriage.

Alia Shawkat doesn't cover her freckles

One thing that you might have noticed about Alia Shawkat is that she doesn't wear a ton of makeup. That includes face makeup. She does wear a little bit, but not to the point that it hides her trademark freckles. "I always tell makeup artists not to cover them," she revealed in an interview with Nylon. "It's really the reason why I get the job."

While many people might feel that their freckles are unattractive or that they should cover them up, Shawkat clearly has a positive relationship with hers. "I still forget I have them — sometimes I'll see girls with freckles and think, 'Oh, wow,'" she continued. "Then I'm like, 'Wait, I have those.'" She added that, like many things in life, having freckles is something you learn to appreciate as you get older.

Shawkat also enjoys wearing her hair in its natural state, which is super curly, and no longer tries to straighten it all the time like she used to. "My biggest advice is that you just gotta rock it," she added. "Let it be wild and it'll look cooler."

Is Alia Shawkat dating Brad Pitt?

In March of 2020, Alia Shawkat began making tabloid headlines, but not because she'd gone on a wild bender or been arrested for driving under the influence. Rather, Shawkat was spotted hanging out with Hollywood bigwig Brad Pitt, according to TMZ. The newspaper reported that they were seen together at a concert at The Wiltern in Los Angeles, then grabbing a bite to eat at an In-N-Out Burger after the show.

TMZ noted that Shawkat and Pitt had been hanging out together "for months," going to gallery shows, museums, concerts, and comedy shows. Naturally, that got people wondering if the pair were possibly more than friends, given that they seem to enjoy spending time together.

But if anyone was hoping for team ShawPitt, TMZ said that a source shared they're not dating and that Pitt has been quite busy with his career, family, and sobriety. Still, it makes you wonder!