Venus Vafa: Iranian-Canadian “Survivor” Contestant Aims for Representation

She is ready to make her mark, to make a difference, and to inspire the next generation of young Persian girls.

Key Takeaways

  • Vafa’s parents emigrated from Iran to Canada, and her family’s immigrant experience inspired her to pursue immigration law and help others in similar situations.
  • She embraces her confidence while acknowledging that her appearance may lead others to make assumptions about her privileged upbringing.
  • Vafa draws inspiration from Iranian women’s rights activists, believing their strength runs through her veins.

Toronto, Canada: At just 24 years old, Venus Vafa from Toronto is already making waves as a contestant on the latest season of the hit reality show “Survivor.”

But her journey to get there has been shaped by her family’s immigrant experience and her desire to be a positive representation of others like her.

Vafa’s parents emigrated from Iran to Canada as young adults, determined to provide a better life for their daughter.

Growing up as a first-generation Canadian of Iranian descent, Vafa didn’t see many people on television who looked like her or shared her background.

That can be pretty isolating and alienating,” she explains.

You feel as though you don’t have a space or a voice, and your opinion doesn’t matter.”

Venus Vafa

That feeling of not belonging motivated Vafa to apply for “Survivor” as “a call for adventure” and to increase the representation of Iranian and Middle Eastern women on television.

If I can just help nudge the needle along and be that source of representation for the next young Persian girl, then that would bring me so much joy,”

Venus Vafa

she says.

Vafa’s family history has also inspired her career aspirations.

After obtaining a business degree from McGill University and working as a data analyst, she plans to pursue immigration law.

My parents had a really difficult time immigrating to Canada. So, if I could just be a step in the process to make that easier for the next person, that would be great,”

Venus Vafa

she explains, citing her love for immigration law and volunteering with refugees.

On the island of Fiji for “Survivor 46,” the self-described “secret softy” knows her outward confidence may be initially misinterpreted.

Based off of looks, they already assume I’m someone who’s been handed things her whole life,”

Venus Vafa

she says, adding,

That couldn’t be any further from the truth.”

Venus Vafa

Vafa credits the women’s rights activists in Iran as inspiration, saying,

If I have those women in my blood, there’s nothing I can’t accomplish.”

Venus Vafa

Whether she takes home the $1 million prize or not, Venus Vafa is already a winner for younger generations, seeing themselves represented on one of television’s most iconic shows.

In Case You Didn’t Know

  • One of her favorite hobbies is cleaning. She also enjoys making short films, creative writing, and playing poker.
  • Graduating from McGill University is Vafa’s most significant accomplishment, which she is proud of.
  • Vafa believes these three adjectives, passionate, persistent, and sassy, best describe her.


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