Rah of Iran
updated 11/22/1999 AT 01:00 AM EST
•originally published 11/22/1999 AT 01:00 AM EST
"I've broken lots of barriers I wouldn't have been able to in Persian culture," says Shahi, who graces the cover of the Cowboys cheerleaders' calendar and will appear with her colleagues in a Robert Altman movie filming next month. An aspiring singer and actress, she hopes to break even more barriers. "I'm going to be the female Elvis," she says.
Born in Grapevine, Texas, in 1980—two years after her parents escaped the upheaval that toppled Iran's last shah in 1979—Shahi grew up speaking English and Farsi. And though she carries the blood of Iran's royal past (her great-great grandfather, Fath Ali Shah, ruled the country until the 1830s), the Southern Methodist University sophomore honors student, who earns $50 a game, says she's totally Texan.
And one who's getting more and more into the football spirit. "I love it when the guys embrace each other," she says. "It's so sweet."