Shanaya Sales is currently a Freshman at the University of Southern California where she is pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting for Stage, Screen, and New Media. She was born and raised in San Jose, California where she first began attending the Darb-eh-Mehr as a baby--accompanying her older sister and mom. As this community became an integral part of her bi-weekly routine, her life values, and most important friendships, her involvement and devotion increased. She volunteered to help lead crafts for the younger students, fundraise, and act as an assistant director alongside Parinaz Kianian for the plays that were put on during Norouz every year. It was these plays and seeing the impact that they had on the community that sparked her craving to pursue theater professionally.
Shanaya attended Archbishop Mitty High School where she was a heavily involved member of the Speech and Debate team which won the California State Championships all four years she was on the team. Shanaya was a team captain and won the National Glenbrooks Tournament in Chicago, Illinois and was ranked fourth in the State of California for her individual events. Additionally, Shanaya was involved in the Performing Arts department. She was a cast member in 12 plays and musicals with roles including Madamé Thénardier in Les Miserables and Madame in Cinderella. In 2018, Shanaya won Best Supporting Actress for her performance as Dolly in One Man Two Guvnors by the National Youth Theater Awards.
After her Sedreh-Pooshi, Shanaya joined the Teen Interfaith Council of Santa Clara in order to share her faith with others and explore it more deeply. The council met on a monthly basis to brainstorm religious peace, volunteer, and even travel to Orange County and New Mexico for a week long exploration of interfaith service and conversation. The depth of understanding of Zoroastrianism offered to her through this council was a catalyst for her decision to study acting for film: she discovered the power of representation.