Natasha Behnam on being an artist, ‘American Pie’ and destigmatizing sex

Photo credit: Josh La Cour

Natasha Behnam, without a doubt, knew she was going to be an artist. All of those years of school and hard work paid off because she can be seen starring in the Universal Picture’s American Pie Presents: Girls’ Rules reboot. But that’s not all Natasha is, she’s also an incredible bilingual actress, comedian, writer and director.

“I don’t believe in anybody boxing themselves into anything. I love exploring my artistic endeavors in a very human way… I’ve just been lucky enough to be able to explore all of those things. I mean, I always wanted to be an actress, ever since I was a little girl. I think I just came out of the womb performing. And I never said I want to be an actress. I always said I’m gonna be an actress. I come from a very large, loud, amazing Persian family and I think that they all thought it was super cute, of course, it got way less cute as I was growing up.”

Natasha’s family insisted she get a college degree- So she graduated from Loyola Marymount University’s prestigious film and television program in Los Angeles, where she further honed her crafts and developed an even greater passion for the arts.

“I obviously picked a university in Los Angeles so that I could go to school but then have my sneaky double life. I was like, ‘I’m going to take acting classes in Hollywood, and I’m gonna get an agent and I’m gonna go on auditions.’ I have this big dream, but I didn’t even really know what that meant. But the point of that is that those four years of college kind of began this very wild journey for me of just trying everything… I was soaking up as much as I could, and kind of building myself as an artist. And school really helped me find my passion for writing, and directing. I think because I was given the opportunity to explore those things in school, it showed me that I can do those things. And I was like, ‘well, if I enjoy this, why shouldn’t I just do all of it all the time?’

Because Natasha knew she was going to make a name for herself in Hollywood, there was no time for her to worry about a Plan B.

“I would get so mad at people when they would ask me what a Plan B was. Because to me, that sounded like I was setting myself up for failure. I thought, if I allowed myself to say, ‘if this doesn’t work out, then this is my second plan,’ it’s just opening a door to myself saying that I can’t do this. And that, to me, was completely false. I always knew what a difficult industry this would be. I was like, ‘if I’m going to do this, I have to commit. And I have to believe in myself if I’m going to expect other people to believe in myself.’ So no, I never really had a plan B because I knew that I had to be dedicated 100%.”

Photo credit: Josh La Cour

American Pie Presents: Girls Rule is a part of the American Pie franchise but this time, the girls are calling the shots. Directed by Mike Elliott, the film follows four high school seniors at East Great Falls who make a pact to fix their love lives before homecoming. 

“Taking American Pie and making it a female story is incredible to me. I love this franchise. I love these movies. I think they’re classic comedies and I sort of think that it’s about time that we gave the ladies a chance to be funny and be a part of this and enjoy what is American Pie is. It’s a beautiful, beautiful thing. I’m really proud of us for destigmatizing women talking about sex and being in sexual situations. It’s real, it’s part of life. When I read [the script], I was like, ‘this makes perfect sense to me.’ Me and my friends went through this, we talk about sex with each other, we learned about our bodies with each other, we talked about boys with each other, every girl goes through that and for some reason it’s so taboo. Or it has been for a long time for us to see that stuff on the screen, or at least not in the same way that we see it with men. So just to be able to do it is really a blessing and an honor and a really fun experience.”

Natasha plays Michelle who’s the independent feminist of the friend group.

“Michelle is amazing. I absolutely fell in love with her. She is so passionate, she’s so smart, she really loves her friends, she’s very driven. I think what I love most about Michelle is her confidence and her willingness to learn and grow. She’s a very curious being, which I actually relate to a lot. There’s a scene in the movie that, when I read the script, sort of solidified Michelle for me, and it made me go, ‘I know who this girl is.’ And the scene, without giving away too much, is basically that Michelle, my character, takes Annie, her best friend in the movie who’s played by Madison Pettis, she takes her to a sex store and she’s like, ‘we are going to explore.’ I think that’s probably as much as I can say, but that scene for me was so Michelle. She’s confident and she is just willing to learn.”

Wait, so there’s female Stifler? How cool!

“So this American Pie does have a Stifler, she is our first female Stifler character who’s not Stifler’s mom. She’s one of the four girls that the movie is about and she is played by Lizze Broadway, my Queen, my Goddess, who absolutely kills the role. I think Lizze obviously had a tough job coming in and playing Stifler but she did such an amazing job. I can’t wait for the world to see her. She is badass, she is sexy, she is fierce. And [this movie] connected to the other movies in the sense that her character is the one that’s throwing all the parties… she says in the movie, ‘Stifler parties are legendary.’ So it can be assumed that she’s in the Stifler family somehow, but we don’t ever see a specific character that’s like, ‘this is my brother or mom or dad.’ We don’t see that in the movie. But she is a Stifler.”

Photo credit: Josh La Cour

Natasha said she had so much fun working on this movie and she learned so much from the cast. 

“The cast of this movie, I have to say is so incredible. And I fell in love with every single person that worked on this. I’m so excited for the world to meet everyone and I just really hope that everybody can fall in love with all the people in this movie in the same way that I fell in love with all of them while working with them.”

American Pie Presents: Girls Rule hits DVD and Digital tomorrow and will be available for streaming later this year on Netflix. 

“I’m really excited for the world to see it. And I hope that everybody enjoys it and has a good laugh during these dark times. Hopefully we can bring a little joy into people’s days.”

Natasha can also be seen in the upcoming film Cupid for Christmas and she’s hoping to get some of her original work produced. She’s truly amazing and I can’t wait to see what she brings next!

“It’s a really fun Christmas rom-com and I play kind of this dark angsty character. So she’s super different from Michelle. It’s a holiday movie, so it will be a very nice palate cleanser for my poor parents. Other than that, I’m actually writing a ton, I write a lot of original work and I have two TV pilots that I’m really, really passionate about that I’m working on. So I’m going to finish up a couple more drafts and just kind of start getting in talks to see if there are people that want to collaborate with me on them and make them happen.”

You can follow Natasha on her social media with her handle: @natashabehnam